We have been hosting a number of medical students in our research unit over the past few years, providing them with opportunities to be exposed to, be involved in, and to undertake dedicated research projects. This is part of their Medical Degree, and known as ‘Advanced Studies’. We have noticed increasing interest in mental health research and practice by students in this program, a trend that bodes well for the future of mental health, generally.
Julian, Daniel and Jessica came to me with a real interest in wanting to understand more about mental health, and to know more about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), in particular. BPD is a mental illness for which those who experience it can carry a significant burden of stigma, and disruption in their lives and relationships with others.
This research has been made possible thanks to the commitment and leadership of Ms Janne McMahon OAM and the Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network (Australia) in conducting two large surveys with people across Australia who experience BPD, and the families, in 2011, and then again in 2017. The students have been able to draw on these rich insights into the lives of people affected by this significant mental illness. They have explored a range of issues. Julian has successfully published insights into parents’ perspective of the early experiences of their child with BPD, and their attempts to seek help. He has also been involved in qualitative research with GPs about their experiences of trying to support patients with BPD (a paper is currently in review). Daniel has successfully published a literature review on experiences of stigma at the interface of care, from the perspective of people with BPD and from service providers’ perspective. Jessica is currently preparing a paper comparing the perspectives of people with BPD, from the surveys, pre and post the release of the National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) Guidelines for the treatment of people with BPD. Prof Sharon Lawn