Mental health and substance use treatment
University of New South Wales


Over 7 million Australians are exposed to trauma before 18yrs of age. These young Australians are 4 times more likely to develop debilitating mental health and substance use disorders, creating a critical need to intervene early to prevent long-lasting psychological and physical health problems.  Dr Barrett’s research focuses on understanding why some people who experience trauma go on to abuse alcohol or drugs. She also works with adolescents and treatment providers to create new, effective approaches to treat the mental health and substance use problems faced by adolescents who have experienced trauma.

In 2012 Emma ran focus groups with 70 school students to inform the development of a substance use prevention program to be later trialled among 27 schools across Australia. This not only ensured the feasibility and relevance of the treatment programs, but served as key opportunities to promote science and inspire innovation and creativity to our younger population.  As a Fulbright Scholar ambassador, she has promoted Australian research on an international stage, continuing that role as UNSW Representative for the Fulbright program – encouraging and mentoring others to work towards similar international exchange opportunities.