Sam is a PhD Candidate within the School of Medicine at Deakin University. Sam holds a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) and Master of Psychology (Clinical). Alongside her role as a PhD Candidate, Sam works as a practicing Psychologist in Tasmania. Sam has long been interested in the associations between physical and mental health. She is passionate about working to alleviate mental illness and promote better health and quality of life on both a local and global scale.
Sam’s PhD focuses on the mechanistic pathways between diet and mental health during the developmental stage of emerging adulthood (ages 18-29 years). Despite emerging adulthood being a critical period for mental health-related risk (and opportunity), the majority of preventative interventions focus on earlier stages of the lifespan. As such, this PhD offers unique insights into novel approaches that may help to address the prevention and treatment needs of emerging adults.
Diet and mental health during emerging adulthood: A systematic review
Prior research has reported associations between dietary patterns and risk for depression and anxiety. However, this association has not yet been explored within the developmental period of emerging adulthood (EA; 18-29 years). A growing body of literature has identified EA as a period of risk and opportunity for dietary behaviour and suggests it may hold unique promise as a target group for public mental health initiatives. Despite this, EA remains a relatively overlooked period within the health literature and evidence on independent shifts in diet and mental health during EA is mixed.
The current systematic review will address these gaps by evaluating the available evidence on habitual diet quality, mental health outcomes and their association within the period of EA. Outcomes of this review are expected to inform future research and public health initiatives aimed at mental health promotion and the prevention of common mental disorders.
Diet, physical activity and anxiety: an Australian population representative study
The purpose of this study is to examine the lifestyle behavioural associations with mental health conditions, in particular anxiety, in the Australian population. We hypothesise that significant differences will be observed between individuals with anxiety, compared to depressed individuals and the general population. Outcomes may hold implications for the development of novel mental health treatment and prevention efforts targeting modifiable lifestyle factors.
Research areas and skills: Psychological treatment, common mental disorders, emerging adulthood, mental health promotion and prevention.