Baume HDR Travel Grant – Trip Report by Daniela Espinoza Oyarce

13 February 2024

by Daniela Espinoza Oyarce

I attended the Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR) 2023 Conference, held from 29th November to 1st December in Scarborough, Perth WA. The support I received by the Baume HDR Travel Grant was crucial to attend this in-person only event, where I heard and learned from national and international experts on mental health research. Furthermore and for the first time, the SMHR Conference showcased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ research, which has been historically under-represented in mental health fora.

The conference showcased different aspects of mental health research. Some personal highlights included Indigenous data sovereignty, culturally-safe mental health approaches, refugee mental health, psychopharmacology, neurodivergence and disability, determinants of mental health, and neuroimaging. There were multiple opportunities for networking with experts from across disciplines over the three days of the SMHR Conference, including a social event for EMCRs to foster networking over breakfast. The EMCR session also included a panel discussion where we heard from experts with different career pathways: traditional tenure-track, academic role after extensive career disruptions, and scientific entrepreneurship. Hearing the experiences and advice from these experts was invaluable in understanding pathways post-PhD.

I had the privilege to present the latest and final findings from my PhD thesis with other experts in neuroimaging and cognition. My talk focused on the intersection between the brain, behaviour, personality, and mental and physical health; emphasising the importance of the brain when investigating the psychological aspects of health. The topic of my talk was well received by the session organiser and the audience, which led to multiple connections with other researchers and institutions conducting neuroimaging research in mental health.

I would like to sincerely thank the funders of the Baume HDR Travel Grant and the NCEPH Scholarship Committee for supporting my attendance to the SMHR 2023 Conference. This experience allowed me to learn from experts and actively participate in mental health research.