Nutritional supplements found to boost effectiveness of anti-depressants

Four nutritional supplements could make a big difference to the effectiveness of anti-depression medication, an international study by University of Melbourne researchers and colleagues from Harvard has found.

Hundreds of millions of people take anti-depressants but they may not work for up to 50% of patients.

Researchers conducted a statistical analysis of over 40 studies and all of the literature dating back to the 1960s. They found four nutritional supplements, omega 3 fish oils, an activated form of folic acid, methylfolate, vitamin D and a compound called SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) all boosted the effects of medication.

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New resource for health professionals when discussing suicide with culturally and linguistically diverse communities

The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has today launched a new resource that provides information for health professionals to guide safe and appropriate discussions about suicide with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

The “Supporting CALD communities to talk about suicide” resource was funded by the Mental Health Commission of NSW and developed in partnership with the Transcultural Mental Health Centre NSW.

It forms part of the world-first online Conversations Matter suite of resources to support safe and effective community discussions about suicide. These include prevention, intervention and postvention settings.

See more at:

Program evaluation toolkit

Looking for tools to support program evaluation?

Is there a program or initiative in your health department, unit or regional health authority that you would like to evaluate?

Establishing a plan for conducting the evaluation is a key step in gathering, analysing and reporting on data to assist in decision making. The Program evaluation toolkit can help!

The Program evaluation toolkit, developed by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, outlines a three-phase process to apply to program evaluation. It contains useful lists, steps and templates for developing a logic model and final report. This toolkit can be used by anyone involved in planning and conducting program evaluation, accessing data sources and analysing data on an ongoing basis.

The toolkit outlines a three-phase process for conducting a program evaluation.

Phase 1: Planning Evaluation - Deciding on program to be evaluated and describing this program

Phase 2: Doing Evaluation - Data collection and analysis

Phase 3: Using Evaluation - Putting knowledge into practice

Indigenous and tribal peoples health

Indigenous people in Australia and New Zealand, despite the distance separating them and varying histories, have one disturbing issue in common: poor health. A landmark comprehensive report published today in medical journal The Lancet has highlighted that this commonality is shared among 23 countries and 154 million Indigenous and tribal people around the world.

Researchers assessed data on measures including life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, birthweight, maternal mortality, nutritional status and educational attainment for the countries involved. On all measures, Indigenous people were found to suffer more than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Aboriginal – Māori: how Indigenous health suffers on both sides of the ditch(The Conversation)

Indigenous and tribal peoples' health (The Lancet–Lowitja Institute Global Collaboration): a population study (FREE download available)

Positive Choices : Drug education for teenagers

Research suggests the teenage years are when alcohol and other drug use are first initiated. This highlights the importance of intervening early with young people to prevent drug use uptake and associated harms.

Schools are an ideal place for these conversations to take place, with the potential for broad-ranging impact and tailoring of messages to suit students' developmental level. In parallel, parents should be engaged in these important discussions and provided with guidance about how to protect against drug related harms. Central to these activities is the need for accurate and credible evidence-based information that can be accessed by young people, their parents and teachers.

To meet this need, the Australian Government Department of Health funded the development of Positive Choices, an online portal that facilitates access to interactive evidence-based drug education resources for school communities.

Chronic kidney disease (AIHW web report)

Chronic kidney disease is a common and serious problem that places a large burden on the Australian healthcare system. It is associated with several other chronic diseases, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease and is a significant contributor to mortality in Australia. This page presents the latest statistics on chronic kidney disease in Australia.

View the Web Page.

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health release special Indigenous health issue

The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health have released a special issue which focuses specifically on Indigenous health.

Released this month, the journal features 20 research papers with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The articles in the special issue include:

* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health: accuracy of patient self-report of screening for diabetes, high cholesterol and cervical cancer

* Insights into nutritionists' practices and experiences in remote Australian Aboriginal communities

* Legally invisible: stewardship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

* The comparative cost of food and beverages at remote Indigenous communities, Northern Territory, Australia

* Use of electronic visual recording to aid assessment of dietary intake of Australian Aboriginal children living in remote communities

* Bundap Marram Durn Durn: Engagement with Aboriginal women experiencing comorbid chronic physical and mental health conditions

* Economic feasibility of price discounts to improve diet in Australian Aboriginal remote communities

* The effect of nutrition education on nutrition-related health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: a systematic review

* Trachoma in remote Indigenous Australia: a review and public health perspective

* The value of partnerships: lessons from a multi-site evaluation of a national social and emotional wellbeing program for Indigenous youth

To view the full list of publications please refer to the links below.

* View full contents: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health: April issue - Indigenous health

* View news item: Aboriginal health special feature: 20 Indigenous health research papers

Teaching mental health workers

An expanding mental health sector in Western NSW is behind the launch of a course that will seek to make students "work-ready".

Promotion across the region of the year-long mental health course includes advice of "new opportunities opening up over the next few years" with the Western NSW Local Health District and its non-government organisation partners.

The health district and TAFE Western have joined forces to offer Certificate III in Health Services Assistance, most likely from July 2016.

It will entail "seven five-day blocks" at Orange, remote learning and clinical placements "as close to home as possible".

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Indigenous health gap a global challenge, says study

The United Nations will not meet its 2030 goals of ending poverty and inequality unless there is a global effort to tackle disadvantage faced by Indigenous and tribal peoples, a landmark study has found.

Led by Australian Indigenous health experts, the study calls for "a revitalised global partnership" to improve health outcomes and "counter political marginalisation" in countries.

"We need to stop thinking about Indigenous health as a parochial issue; it's a global issue," said lead author, Ian Anderson, the chairman of Indigenous Education at the University of Melbourne.

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Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2014-15 (Web - AIHW)

In 2014-15, around 850 alcohol and other drug treatment services provided just over 170,000 treatment episodes to around 115,000 clients.

The top 4 drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (38% of treatment episodes), cannabis (24%), amphetamines (20%) and heroin (6%. The proportion of episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines (20%) has continued to increase over the last 10 years, from 11% of treatment episodes in 2005-06, and 17% in 2014-15. Clients in AOD treatment services are ageing, with a median age of 33 years in 2014-15, up from 31 in 2005-06.

View web page: Alcohol and other drug treatment services

Chronic disease risk factors (AIHW)

Chronic disease risk factors, an AIHW web report, presents the relationship between selected chronic diseases and behavioural and biomedical risk factors. Behavioural risk factors include poor diet, tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Biomedical risk factors include overweight and obesity and high blood pressure.

The analysis shows that many chronic diseases share behavioural and biomedical risk factors; and modifying these can reduce an individual's risk of developing a chronic disease and result in large health gains, by reducing illness and rates of death.

View web page: Chronic disease risk factors

Review of after-hours service models: Learnings for regional, rural and remote communities

The transition of Medicare Locals (MLs) to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) provides a timely opportunity to re-evaluate and re-orientate after-hours primary care services. All PHNs have been tasked with evaluating their current after-hours service provision and determining the best approach for delivering after-hours primary care to consumers in their region.

This Issues Brief, Review of after-hours service models: Learnings for regional, rural and remote communities developed by the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network in partnership with Healthy Futures Pty Ltd, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, evaluates the current delivery models of after-hours primary health care nationally and internationally. In particular, it describes the varied approaches to service delivery. This variation is attributable to a range of factors including funding sources, workforce availability, consumer awareness, distance and remoteness, population structure and local economies.

A literature review and a study of current and alternate models of service delivery identified a wide range of service models across Australia, including GP-centred models which utilise practice-based after-hours GP visits, Medical Deputising Services, co-located GP clinics in hospitals, nurse-led telephone triage models, and internet-supported triage models. Each of these approaches has its benefits and limitations.

The Dementia-Friendly Home app

The Dementia-Friendly Home app has been launched by Alzheimer's Australia Vic. Using interactive 3D game technology Unreal Engine, the tablet app provides carers with ideas to make their home more accessible for people living with dementia.

Based on ten Dementia Enabling Environment Principles, The Dementia-Friendly Home app recommends practical changes that prompt a carer to think about how the home can be changed in a way that may assist the person living with dementia. Many of the app suggestions are small, inexpensive ideas, such as placing labels with pictures on cupboard doors. More significant changes include installing motion sensors that turn lights on and off when people walk through the house and changing busily patterned wall or floor coverings.

The Dementia-Friendly Home app is now available for iPad from the App Store> and Android tablets from the Google Play Store (link is external)<> for $2.99.

About the App

Physical health and mental wellbeing: Evidence guide

The Mental Health Commission of NSW has launched a new resource to guide policy and program makers in improving the physical health of people who experience severe and persistent mental illness.

The Physical health and mental wellbeing: Evidence guide presents current evidence about the relationship between physical health and mental illness, including the effectiveness of interventions related to physical activity, diet and smoking.

It also addresses behaviour therapies, peer support and medication.

Creating choice in end of life care

The Australian Centre for Health Research has released a report about end of life care and the pressures it is under in Australia. Conversations: creating choice in end of life care by Rebecca Bartel, finds that conversation can be the principle inexpensive step to reforming the systems we have in place and ensuring that people have greater choice.

Bartel argues that the community needs to talk about dying. Many Australians are dying in ways they would not choose - we are often receiving care we don't want in places where we don't want it. The evidence shows that open conversations about death, dying and bereavement are vital to the long-term health and well being of individuals and communities and we are not currently doing it well. "It is clear that sharing our preferences for what we'd like at the end of our life is the most important – and costly – conversation that Australia is not having".

The economic cost of serious mental illness and comorbidities

The RANZCP report The economic cost of serious mental illness and comorbidities in Australia and New Zealand looks specifically at those with a serious (or severe) mental illness. It provides useful insight into a highly vulnerable group who on average die decades younger than the general population, often due to preventable or treatable physical health problems.

The report calculates the economic cost of premature death of people with mental illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychoses and severe anxiety and depression to be $15 billion (.9% of GDP) annually, and the cost overall to be $56.7 billion (3.5% of GDP).

The RANZCP report provides further evidence of the need for coordinated care packages for people with severe and complex needs. Poor physical health compromises mental health recovery, and has a substantial cost impact on the national economy.

Global obesity report from the Lancet

An open-access report published in The Lancet predicts that if trends continue, by 2025, global obesity prevalence will reach 18% in men and surpass 21% in women. Severe obesity will surpass 6% in men and 9% in women.

The report from the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration included 19.2 million people in 200 countries, where the researchers estimated trends in mean BMI. Although underweight remains prevalent in the world 's poorest regions, especially in south Asia, more people in the world are now obese than underweight. Australian men rank 5th in the world with 27.6% obese, and Australian women rank 9th, with 27.9%.

A useful interpretation of the results, including graphs and an interview with one of the major researchers can be found in the Sydney Morning Herald (April 2, 2016) article, Obesity a bigger problem than world hunger, Lancet study says by Catherine Armitage and Inga Ting.

NCD Risk Factor Collaboration. (2016). Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014: a pooled analysis of 1698 population-based measurement studies with 19· 2 million participants

WHO Global Report on Diabetes

The World Health Organization has published it's first Global Report on Diabetes It shows there are 4 times as many diabetics in the world now as there were 30 years ago and the disease was responsible for the deaths of 3.7 million people in 2012.

"There are no simple solutions for addressing diabetes but coordinated, multicomponent intervention can make a significant difference. Everyone can play a role in reducing the impact of all forms of diabetes. Governments, health-care providers, people with diabetes, civil society, food producers and manufacturers and suppliers of medicines and technology are all stakeholders. Collectively, they can make a significant contribution to halt the rise in diabetes and improve the lives of those living with the disease."

NSW Mothers and Babies Report 2014

Mothers and Babies 2014 is the 17th annual report on mothers and babies in NSW. The report provides findings on the characteristics of and outcomes for mothers and babies in the antenatal period, during birth and in the postnatal period.

The report provides a particular focus on:

- NSW wide findings, including 5-year trends

- Local Health District specific findings

- NSW Hospital specific findings

- Clinical indicators for Obstetrics

- Findings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mothers and Babies

The report is available online at:

All indicators included in the report can also be found on HealthStats NSW (

Better outcomes for people with chronic and complex health conditions

The role of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group was to examine opportunities for the reform of primary health care in improving the management of people with complex and chronic disease.

The Advisory Group provided its final report, Better outcomes for people with chronic and complex health conditions, to Government in December 2015.

Central to the recommendations is the implementation of a Health Care Home model of care for patients with chronic and complex conditions. The Health Care Home provides a 'home-base' for these patients, coordinating the comprehensive care they need on an ongoing basis.