Health and Wellbeing Fellowships – Dr Allison Milner

Health and Wellbeing Fellowships – Dr Allison Milner

I’m a social epidemiologist. So social epidemiologists are primarily concerned
with understanding population level health and the factors around individuals that impact
on their health. The health and medical research fellowships
are platforms for mid-career researchers to accelerate their research in specific areas
of health need for the Victorian population. So the one that I’m looking at, is looking
on health service use access among employed men but more generally the mental health consequences of not accessing health services. We have about 3,000 men or just under 3,000
men losing their life each year to suicide. We also know that men are much much less likely
to seek help for a mental health condition when they have one, than women. Certain occupations particularly among men
have much higher suicide rates than others. So these occupations are men in the construction
industry, men who are employed as nurses for example, men who are employed as farmers. So there’s something about men and work
that’s important here and the connection about these two things. And I started to think about where should
we be targeting our efforts in terms of public health and prevention initiatives. A big part of my job is looking at data and
we have a few unique big data bases where I can start to understand the temporal ordering
of things. So a man goes into a stressful occupation,
in the following year then, is he more likely to seek help and then in the following year
is he more likely to have a poor mental health outcome. So by looking at things at a population level,
you can begin to unpack cause and effect of something which is critical when you are trying
to intervene. This is where big population level data is
critical in the future of our health and wellbeing does lie in our ability to access and use
this data because then we can inform government, using the best possible evidence about where
they should be placing their resources. But I think this is going to lead to benefits
for the population. It’s going to increase knowledge. It’s going to enable people like me to work
with policy makers and hopefully in the future then lead to health benefits for males employed
in the population as well.

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