New Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health

A leading researcher has been appointed to a new Chair at UNSW to drive efforts at improving support for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Julian Trollor inside

A leading researcher has been appointed to a new Chair at UNSW to drive efforts at improving support for people with an intellectual disability and mental health issues.

Minister for Disability Services Paul Lynch has announced that Dr Julian Trollor will take up the Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health at UNSW in February 2009 as Associate Professor.

Mr Lynch said the NSW Government provided $2.1 million over five years to create the position, which will work closely with the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC) and NSW Health.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show there are 177,700 people in New South Wales with intellectual and developmental disorders or other mental or behavioural disorders.

Mr Lynch said it was recognised that many people with an intellectual disability were at a higher risk of also having a psychiatric disorder and their access to mental health services could at times be limited relative to the general population.

"UNSW, as the host institution of the Chair, will provide opportunities for specific teaching, research and clinical services to improve this situation," he said.

Mr Lynch said the key objectives of the Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health were to:

Dr Trollor will be responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in mental health and intellectual disability to medical students, trainee psychiatrists, psychologists and other medical and allied health professionals.

Dr Trollor is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Psychiatry at UNSW.

His research interests lie in neuropsychiatry with particular expertise in brain imaging and genetics and a focus upon the ageing process.

His clinical expertise in intellectual disability mental health is widely respected and he is a highly popular and engaging teacher.

Dr Trollor said that while the mental health needs of those with an intellectual disability were high, unfortunately they often went unrecognised.

"Naturally, this is distressing for the individual and also leads to significant anxiety for carers and health professionals.

"One of my priorities in this position will be to address the educational needs of health care professionals and carers so that they can effectively recognise and manage mental disorders in people with intellectual disability," Dr Trollor said.

Professor Richard Henry, UNSW's Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), commended the NSW Government for supporting this vital initiative.

"The UNSW is pleased to be playing a crucial role in research and in training which will improve the lives of patients and their carers.

"The University has a world-class reputation in the field of psychiatry and already provides a number of clinical programs in this area," Professor Henry said.

The Chair is one of two NSW Government initiatives aimed at increasing the workforce capacity in relation to intellectual disability and mental health. The other is the provision of $944,000 to the NSW Institute of Psychiatry for nine Advanced Psychiatric Fellowships to provide specific career development for psychiatrists in the area of intellectual disability and mental health.

Contact: Dr Julian Trollor 0412 118 959, Susi Hamilton, UNSW media | 9385 1583 | 0422 934 024 | susi.hamilton@unsw.edu.au