Watch the recording of the webinar

The societal impact of people living with mental health challenges is far-reaching. Frontline workers – our emergency services and health care staff – often navigate and provide support to people experiencing mental health conditions. What role does research play in preventing this from happening at the start? Are we ensuring that those in need are receiving the care and appropriate response in their moment of need? Is our approach to acute mental health situations working?

In a panel discussion moderated by Professor Tom Burne, with panellists, Dr James Kesby, Professor Ed Heffernan, Dr Zoe Rutherford, and Dr Megan Purvey, this special mental health week event seeks to highlight the role that research can play in giving first responders and health care staff the tools they need to best support people in mental health crisis.

Date: Tuesday 10 October 2023
Time: 11.30–12.30pm
Venue: Live webinar (will be recorded)


Register now 

QBI's "The Frontline for Mental Health" webinar hosts a panel of experts from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) - a unique and long-established mental health research partnership between Queensland Health and UQ that includes a team of researchers based at the QBI. QCMHR is funded to work state-wide Queensland and contribute to the Australian and global research effort to improve mental health. 


Professor Thomas Burne – Moderator 

Professor Thomas Burne is a Professorial Research Fellow with the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research and Group Leader at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). The focus of his research includes cognitive testing in rodent models of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, as well as psychopharmacological studies and research on clinical populations. 



Dr James Kesby, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research and Queensland Brain Institute

Dr Kesby is a behavioural neuroscientist at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research and the Queensland Brain Institute, and senior lecturer with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Queensland. His research is focused on cross-species assessments of decision-making in relation to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. His interests lie in how corticostriatal circuitry manages and optimises our ability to respond to changes in the environment. These processes are often impaired in psychiatric disorders and there are currently few, if any, treatments available for these problems. By using cognitive tasks in both mice and humans, Dr Kesby’s research program aims to establish better translational pathways to understand the underlying neurobiology, and identify novel treatment approaches, for disorders like schizophrenia.

Professor Ed Heffernan BSc (Hons), MB BS, MPH, PhD, FRANZCP, School of Public Health

Professor Ed Heffernan is the Director of the Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service and a Professor with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Queensland. He has over twenty-five years’ experience as a psychiatrist working with people in mental health crisis and people suffering mental problems who encounter the criminal justice system. He is the head of the Police Mental Health Liaison Service, an innovative service that provides support to Police, including Negotiators, working with people who are experiencing mental health problems. He leads a research group at the QCMHR and is the Principal Investigator of the Partners in Prevention study examining first responses to suicide crisis in Queensland. This work includes a globally unique linked data study of 70,000 individuals who were the subject of 220,000 suicide related call to emergency services, linked to 20 million health records.

Dr Zoe Rutherford, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research and Faculty of Medicine

Dr Zoe Rutherford heads the Mental Health Evaluation Research Stream at the QCMHR and is also a Senior Research Fellow with UQ’s School of Public Health. Zoe currently leads an eight-strong team of mental health evaluation specialists researching community-based mental health interventions, programs and services using mixed-methodologies. Her drive for developing new and effective ways of improving people’s health, particularly those who are deemed hard to reach, ensures her applied research program is focused on informing decisions about future mental health program design, delivery, and sustainability for people most at need. The highly translational research program is also generating new knowledge about how to engage people with severe mental illness in the co-design and co-production of mental health research. Zoe built this research program from scratch following her move from the United Kingdom to Australia in 2020. 

 Dr Megan Purvey, BSC, MBBS, MPH, FACEM

Dr Megan Purvey is an early-career Emergency Physician currently working at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Hospital following diverse experience in medical and patient challenges in Western Sydney in 2019. She has a special interest in medical education and is passionate about providing evidence based care to her patients. As a front line health worker in the Emergency Department, she is seeing an increasing number and acuity of patients experiencing mental health conditions. Her experience across different departments and geographical areas lends a unique perspective on mental health challenges on the front line.



Live webinar (will be recorded)