18 May 2017

People with schizophrenia will benefit from $4 million in State Government funding awarded to Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) for the prevention, improved treatments and research on a cure for the psychiatric disorder.

Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies and Health Minister Brad Hazzard today announced the funding as part of Schizophrenia Awareness Week. The funding is over four years to support the work of the Chair in Schizophrenia Research at NeuRA, a leading brain and nervous system research institute at Randwick.

“We greatly value the support the non-government sector provides to people and families living with mental illness,” Mrs Davies said.

Mr Hazzard said work by research bodies such as NeuRA is instrumental in positioning NSW at the forefront of medical research in Australia.

“The NSW Government has invested $1 billion over the past four years in increasing the capacity for high-quality health and medical research. We want to ensure that work translates into clinical practice that changes patients’ lives,” Mr Hazzard said.

Whilst prevalence is low, schizophrenia and psychosis-type mental illnesses are among the top 10 causes of disability worldwide and account for about 80 percent of mental health spending in Australia.

“This $4 million in funding will help identify alternative treatment options for people diagnosed with schizophrenia and help prevent future episodes and the development of a chronic disorder,” Mrs Davies said.

“It will support work by Professor Cynthia Shannon Weickert, an internationally acclaimed leader in neuroscience, who is leading research into psychosis with the hope of finding ways to prevent and even cure schizophrenia.”

Professor Shannon Weickert said one in 100 people have or will develop schizophrenia during their lifetime.

“Most will first be affected by this condition in their late teens and early twenties. It is life-long, and associated with reduced life expectancy of 15 to 20 years,” Professor Shannon Weickert said.

NeuRA has also been allocated $7.98 million in research funding for 2016-2018 under the NSW Government’s Medical Research Support Program.