The vision of the Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) is to be recognised as a leader in excellent, innovative, population-based mental health research that is relevant to policy and practice.
In 1974 Alexander Scott Henderson inaugurated the Social Psychiatry Research Unit (SPRU), an elite NHMRC research unit which Scott elected to embed within ANU. SPRU began in 3 Liversidge Street, near University House and became notably productive and internationally recognised. The Unit became a WHO Collaborating Centre in Mental Disorders which were well suited to the new challenges confronting modern medicine. In later years, the Unit’s emphasis moved to mental disorders of the elderly – depression and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. Hundreds of refereed journal papers, reports, and books provide a quantitative measure of SPRU’s scientific success.
In 1995 the Unit was renamed the Centre for Mental Health Research and the work on mental health in older persons prospered, with strong international recognition. In 2001 'The e-hub: e-mental Health Research and Development' group was established by Professors Helen Christensen and Kathy Griffiths. Soon after the online self-help service MoodGYM was launched; MoodGYM now operates in six languages and has been used by a million users in 22 countries world-wide. Other evidence based online self-help programs developed and launched by the e-hub group included e-couch, BluePages, and Beacon.
In 2012 the CMHR was divided and the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health & Wellbeing (CRAHW) was established; drawing together staff with expertise in ageing, mental health and life course research.
Today positioned in the old Canberra Community Hospital complex (1928), academics at the CMHR continue to work on population-based mental health research that is relevant to policy and practice.