ANU experts on National Psychology Week

10 November 2014

National Psychology Week 2014, from 9 to 15 November, aims to increase public awareness of how psychology can help people and communities lead healthier, happier and more meaningful lives.

The focus for 2014 will be helping Australians to manage stress and increase their wellbeing.

Some of Australia’s leading psychology experts discuss the issues highlighted by National Psychology Week and their latest research.


Professor Michael Kyrios

Director, ANU Research School of Psychology

Expertise: anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarding disorder, compulsive buying, gambling, serious mental illness, evidence-based psychological treatments, chronic medical illness, psychology and public health

“There is a high burden associated with mental illness and, with half of people with a mental illness still not receiving treatment, we need to address ways in which we can support mental health services effectively.

“Psychological research has helped develop effective treatments and supports for children, adolescents, adults and older individuals with psychological and health difficulties that impede the quality of their life and sense of wellbeing. It is also important that psychological supports are available for carers, as well as people across broad geographic and social divides.

“There is considerable underfunding of mental health services, with many individuals and groups falling between the gaps, and little funding of preventative programs that facilitate resilience.”


Dr Martin Sellbom

Senior Lecturer, ANU Research School of Psychology

Expertise: personality disorders, psychological assessment and evaluation

"Personality disorders constitute serious mental disorders that can complicate the mental health picture and thus intervention outcomes of patients, but are often neglected or poorly assessed for in everyday practice."


Dr Rhonda Brown

Associate Professor, ANU Research School of Psychology

Expertise: stress, mental health and physical health in chronic illness; anxiety, depression & fatigue comorbidity; overweight/obesity

"Stress and psychological distress can indirectly contribute to ill-health via sleep disturbance and suppression of immune functioning."


Dr Kate Reynolds

Associate Professor, ANU Research School of Psychology

Expertise: social connections, belonging and well-being, school functioning and school outcomes (bullying, engagement, learning).

“Recent research in high schools shows that a key to reducing bullying which is related to student well-being is feeling a sense of belonging and connection to the school.

"We often think about well-being as an outcome of our individual coping skills and resilience. Increasingly it is becoming clear that our groups and networks give us a sense of belonging, purpose and support. In fact they can be transformative for the self, playing a key role in improving well-being and behaviour change.”


Dr Vanessa Beanland

Associate Professor, ANU Research School of Psychology

Expertise: Driver behaviour, road safety, driver inattention, “looked but failed to see” crashes

“Personality traits can be used to predict a lot about a person – their probable career success, whether they are likely to get divorced, their risk at dying early from disease, and how safe they are as a driver. Recently at ANU’s Research School of Psychology, we have been exploring the question of how personality predicts driving behaviour.”


Dr Kristen Murray

Visiting Fellow, Research School of Psychology

Expertise: Stress, Body Image, Eating Disorders, Obesity, Mental Health in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

"Adolescence is a period of development which can be stressful for a young person and leave them vulnerable to mental health issues. Supporting our youth to develop ways to cope with these transitions is key to promote their health and well-being now and in the future.