Mental Health

Measuring and Improving Wellbeing

Project Lead
Associate Professor Justine Gatt

Associate Professor Justine Gatt

Associate Professor Justine Gatt

Associate Professor Justine Gatt is Head of the Gatt Resilience Group at UNSW and NeuRA, and Lead of the new Mental Wellbeing Centre at NeuRA. Since 2006, she has led a mental wellbeing and resilience research program that spans neuroscience through to clinical translation, including leadership of more than 15 neuroscience, longitudinal and randomised controlled trials in young people and adults.

Associate Professor Gatt obtained her PhD in Psychology at the University of Sydney in 2005, followed by postdoctoral research in psychiatric neuroscience at the Brain Dynamics Centre, University of Sydney. She has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications, including a book and three book chapters. In 2014, she developed and published the COMPAS-W Wellbeing Scale, the first composite index of wellbeing, which has since been adopted in more than 30 research and clinical projects.

Her work has been recognised by multiple awards including the Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research, the NHMRC Excellence Award for Top Ranked Career Development Fellowship Applicant, and the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Success Story awarded to the WUN Resilience Group for Exceptional Levels of Achievement, for which Gatt was Lead Coordinator in a 6-site international trial in youth resilience.

Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness; it is also about positive wellbeing. Across the whole community, fewer than a quarter of people report “flourishing”, or optimal wellbeing, while up to 20 per cent have a diagnosable mental illness. This means that at any given time, many people are not mentally unwell but still have room for improvement in their wellbeing.

About the project

Associate Professor Gatt’s team has developed one of the first wellbeing scales, called COMPAS-W, which uniquely measures different components of wellbeing in:

  • Patients receiving care from inpatient mental health services
  • Mental health staff across the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
  • Young people attending a headspace mental health clinic.

From these learnings, the team have developed two wellbeing programs which they are currently evaluating:

  • The Thrive Wellbeing Program, a 7-week program for health care workers, focusing on developing healthy habits across seven domains of life including sleep, exercise, nutrition, dealing with stress, social connection, mental challenges, and life purpose.
  • ReNeuWell®, a phone app that measures wellbeing and provides information and techniques on improving wellbeing and resilience, for the general population. ReNeuWell will be launched on the Apple Store in early 2023.

Funding Sources

  • Commonwealth grant funding awarded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
  • NHMRC Project Grant

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