Speakers from the University of Melbourne Mental Health PhD Program


Lowe Theatre, Redmond Barry Building
The University of Melbourne,
Tin Alley,
Parkville 3010


More Information

Elise Kalokerinos


Please join us for our final MSPS Colloquium for 2022!

This event will feature three speakers from the University of Melbourne Mental Health PhD Program (MHPP): Madeleine Connolly, Djamila Eliby and Rebecca Cooper.

Madeleine Connolly |  The mental health related barriers and benefits to exercise

Abstract: Physical exercise can be a great way to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. But what happens when someone feels too anxious to start exercising? Or when they’re too depressed to even get out of bed? Madeleine will present a broad overview of her PhD research, which examines the bidirectional relationship between mental health and exercise.

Madeleine will present the quantitative scale that she developed as part of her PhD research: the Mental health related barriers and benefits to EXercise (MEX) scale. She will then summarise the clinically relevant models resulting from further experimental research with the MEX scale within her PhD.

Bio: Madeleine is a final year PhD student in MSPS, under the supervision of Nicholas Van Dam, Stephen Bowden, and Michaela Pascoe (Victoria University). Her thesis, “the mental health related barriers and benefits to exercise”, explores how symptoms of anxiety and depression can relate to leisure time exercise behaviours in a bidirectional manner. She has a particular interest in the transdiagnostic symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress as they exist on a continuum, as well as in the measurement of psychological symptoms and of exercise behaviours. Madeleine hopes to continue in academic research in the future in the fields of mental health and exercise.

Djamila Eliby  |  An investigation of the relationships between diet and anxiety/depressive disorders

Abstract: Despite increased engagement with psychotherapy and pharmacological treatments, the burden of anxiety and depressive disorders remains high. However, there is a growing interest in research around modifiable risk factors, such as dietary habits, as potential intervention targets.

Djamila will present her findings from a systemic review into links between dietary patterns and clinical anxiety and depressive disorders. The second part of her talk will discuss empirical findings on the associations between diet and anxiety/depression, using data from the ‘Bugs and Brains: Gut and Mental Health Study’.

Bio: Djamila is a final year PhD candidate in MSPS, supervised by Dr Julian Simmons, Dr Orli Schwartz, Dr Anita Lawrence, and Professor Nick Haslam. Her research explores the associations between diet, anxiety/depressive disorders and the gut microbiota – the microbial ecosystem of the gastrointestinal tract. A big part of her research thesis is understanding the links between dietary patterns and mental health (an area of research coined ‘nutritional psychiatry’) and how the gut microbiota may be a potential mediator of this relationship. After submission, Djamila hopes to continue researching the gut microbiota in the context of anxiety/depression and other mental health disorders.

Rebecca Cooper |  Continuity and discontinuity of sleep problems and mental health symptoms in young adolescents: a latent transition analysis

Abstract: Sleep problems are highly prevalent across childhood and adolescence and are associated with various mood and behaviour-related mental health symptoms. Given the transient nature of sleep problems during this period, Rebecca’s study aimed to characterise individual changes in sleep problems and their potentially bidirectional relationships with mental health symptoms using a longitudinal, individual-centred modelling approach.

She found that individuals experience substantial changes in sleep problems across the transition to adolescence, and these changes precede later mental health symptoms. These findings suggest that treating specific profiles of sleep problems in youth could influence mental health-related outcomes across development

Bio: Rebecca is currently studying her PhD at the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre at The University of Melbourne, under the supervision of Drs Vanessa Cropley and Maria Di Biase. Her thesis is focused on the role of sleep and sleep-related behaviours on brain development, and the implications this has for psychopathology – particularly during adolescence. She has a background in biomedical science, and studied motor and sensory symptoms in schizophrenia during her honours year. In the future, Rebecca hopes to pursue further research at the intersection of neurodevelopment and mental health and illness, and to investigate antecedents and predictive factors for mental disorders.

Announcements on upcoming Colloquiums and Zoom links to online Colloquiums are sent out via the MSPS School Colloquium mailing list. To be added to this list, please email Dr Elise Kalokerinos (elise.kalokerinos@unimelb.edu.au)