Queensland scientists have made a breakthrough in the understanding of mental health. It’s hoped they can now find better drug treatments.

Isabella Magee reports.


A study three years in the making.

Queensland researchers have discovered a new link between genes and mental illnesses.

Scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute spent thousands of hours collecting the genetic data of more than 50,000 people.

The end result revealing more than 70 unknown genes, which contribute to various disorders.

Prof. Eske Derks, QIMR: “We looked at 13 different regions in the brain. We looked at hypothalamus, adrenal gland and colon and what we found was that most of the genes that we found, that the activity levels were, especially related to mental health in the brain areas.”

The groundbreaking research could now potentially cease mental disorders becoming full-blown.

Prof. Eske Derks, QIMR: “If you could notice on one there’s an increased risk to develop a disorder you could try to make sure that you can intervene really early.”

For Dylan Reid, the findings mean more.

He’s hoping they will prevent further heartbreak, after he lost his sister Heidi to suicide in 2011.

Dylan Reid, victim’s brother: “When it comes to mental illness we can’t diagnose people properly. We’re not gonna bridge that gap overnight, it’s all these little steps like this to get to the point where we’re looking at this objectively.”

A staggering four million Australians are on some form of mental health medication with only half receiving additional help.

Dylan Reid, victim’s brother: “Seek help, don’t sit on it and let it foster.”

Isabella Magee, QUT News.