Meet Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin

Posted 25th March 2019 in Research

Strengthening the relationship between research and practice is just one of the reasons why Life in Mind is profiling Australian suicide prevention researchers.

Ahead of the Life in Mind online research directory launch, we are continuing to share short interviews with researchers, to provide insight into the important work that is being performed across the country.

Life in Mind would like to introduce Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin, a Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle and a valued Everymind research consultant. While the research Professor Kay-Lambkin predominantly works on is designing and testing treatments for mental health and substance use problems, there is increased need to understand the complex relationship of substance misuse and abuse and suicidal behaviour.

Not only does Frances design and test new psychological treatments, but she works to make these programs and treatments helpful and useful for people outside of her research trials. This is part of the collaborative work she conducts with Everymind in her role as a research consultant, where together research studies are put into practice, strengthening the Australian and international community.

What led you to enter research?

Problem solving! I really like solving problems… and coming up with new ways to solve problems. I can ask new questions, find new understandings, talk with people from all walks of life to understand and work with them to solve problems. I then get to test whether those ideas and solutions actually do what we think they will, and it ends up being a full circle type activity. This is what I get to do every day in research.

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Translating research into practice is taking what we learn from our research trials in our research laboratories, and making those learnings available to people in the ‘real world’.

Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin

Can you provide a brief overview of your research?

My passion is to ensure that every Australian can access support for mental health and alcohol and other drug use problems whenever and wherever they need it. At the moment, I am focussing on using technology to help me realise this. I am building and testing Apps, websites and other technologies to help take programs and treatment to where people are – rather than waiting for them to come to our treatment centres. I’ve started to do this for depression, alcohol and other drug use, tobacco use, sleep problems, diet and exercise issues, crystal methamphetamine, and support programs for family and friends affected by a loved one’s mental health or substance use problem.

How would you best explain the process of translating research into practice?

This is a really important step. The reason I do research is to try and make things better for people living with and supporting others with mental health and alcohol and other drug use problems. But often, when we get funded to do research we may not get any additional funding to support rolling it out and making our treatments and programs available once the study is finished.

That’s what ‘translation into practice’ is… it’s taking what we learn from our research trials in our laboratories, and making those learnings available to people in the ‘real world’. It can take many forms: partnerships with mental health and alcohol and other drug services, partnerships with people experiencing the conditions we are studying (and their family members and friends), partnerships with government and non-government stakeholders, all to try and understand what barriers and enablers there are to making our research findings available to everyone in the long term.