A research project to build capacity for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat youth suffering from mental health disorders such as depression has attracted a grant of $77,048 from the Channel 7 Telethon Trust. 

TMS is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation shown to be effective for treatment for adults with treatment-resistant depression. 

Recent studies identify TMS as a promising intervention for youth experiencing mood disorders and the WA led research will provide insight into its safety, efficacy and suitability during child development.  

Chief Investigators are Associate Professor Jenny Rodger, head of Brain Plasticity Research at the Perron Institute and The University of Western Australia and Dr Jamie Beros, a postdoctoral researcher in this group.  

“Depression is one of the most common and costly mental health disorders worldwide,” Professor Rodger said. 

“The 2017 Young Minds Matter survey indicated that five per cent of WA school students are living with depression, with recent estimates reporting a significant increase since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“In childhood, the brain is in a heightened state of flexibility, undergoing critical changes to establish the connections and circuitry for adulthood.  

“Maladaptive changes experienced by the brain during this developmental period can impact emotional, cognitive and social development, leading for example to reduced school performance, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and social isolation.  

“Early-intervention is important to prevent or manage depressive symptoms,” Associate Professor Rodger said. 

“Our project brings together researchers and clinicians from leading WA research and medical institutions to investigate TMS outcomes in WA youth with disorders such as depression.

“We aim to establish a translational pipeline to incorporate evidence-based research into clinical practice in the safest way possible. The funding will allow us to prepare for a clinical trial, evaluate existing datasets and establish a governance panel including clinicians, researchers, key community and health provider stakeholders, and people with lived experience to guide our research.”  

Associate Investigators are Dr Jarek Hryniewicki (co-founder and Director of Modalis), Dr Salam Hussain (Consultant Psychiatrist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital), and Dr Yulia Furlong (Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Perth Children’s Hospital). International expert in paediatric TMS, Professor of Psychiatry Paul Croarkin, at the USA’s Mayo Clinic School of Medicine is a collaborator.