National Institute for Mental Health Research, ANU
Mental health problems like depression and anxiety are common in the community, and yet very few people seek help. We need to find new ways of linking people to effective treatments, and online therapy programs may hold the answer, teaching strategies for how to cope with symptoms of depression and anxiety, easily accessed at home, available 24 hours a day, and are often free to access. Dr Farrer’s research focuses on whether these treatments work, how they work, and for whom they work best, focussing particularly on delivering online treatments in schools, and with people who call crisis counselling services like Lifeline. Currently she is developing and building a new online service called a Virtual Clinic, which will provide online mental health support to university students.
Lou has been invited by schools to conduct parent information sessions about online programs for depression in young people, and have shared findings from her research with Lifeline staff, university residential college staff and students, and allied health professionals. She was invited as a guest speaker on the mental health-focused radio program “Opening Minds” in 2012 and in 2013, she wrote an ‘explainer’ article entitled “What is depression?” for ‘The Conversation’ which was subsequently published by the CSIRO. She is an avid supporter of Lifeline Canberra, and has been a volunteer telephone counsellor and in-shift support supervisor since 2006.