Media

2019

6 November

Award winners 'humbled' to be standing together tackling mental health

Rachel Clun; Source: SMH

Two passionate advocates determined to drive down Australia's suicide rate have been named the joint winners of the nation's highest mental health honour.

Joe Williams, a Wiradjuri man and Indigenous mental health advocate, and Christine Morgan, the newly appointed suicide prevention adviser to the Prime Minister, said they were humbled to receive the fourth annual Mental Health Prize on Wednesday night.

Read the full article.

6 November

PM awards dual winners of Australian Mental Health Prize

Fleur Townley and Lucy Carroll; Source: UNSW Newsroom

Dual winners of the Australian Mental Health Prize, Christine Morgan and Joe Williams.
Dual winners of the Australian Mental Health Prize, Christine Morgan and Joe Williams.

Two mental health advocates tackling suicide prevention have been named joint winners of the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize at UNSW Sydney last night. 

Joe Williams, a Wiradjuri man and passionate community advocate for mental health suicide prevention, and Christine Morgan, Australia’s first national suicide prevention advisor, have been announced dual winners of the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented the winners with their awards at a ceremony at UNSW Sydney on Wednesday night.

The Prize, now in its fourth year, was established through UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry to recognise people who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness. 

This year’s winners were chosen out of a field of seven finalists that included counsellor and author Connie Boglis; Sue Murray, Managing Director of the Zero Suicide Institute of Australasia; founder of the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Scientia Professor Gordon Parker AO; Aboriginal mental health advocate Donna Stanley; and CEO of Ambulance Victoria Associate Professor Tony Walker.

Ita Buttrose, Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group said the Australian Mental Health Prize had established itself as an important platform to recognise those making a significant contribution in mental health in this country.

“This year’s winners and finalists demonstrate the diverse and deeply compassionate work being undertaken in many challenging areas across this nation,” she said.

Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty, from UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry, said that “Australia leads the way internationally in many aspects of mental health and it is important to shine a light on those who dedicate so much of themselves to continually improving our approach in this area." 

Professor Brodaty emphasised the importance of dedicating more resources to the overburdened psychiatric system, including implementing "aftercare for at least three months after people try to take their life."

"This year’s dual winners showcase the significant and collective work being done that we should all be proud of and grateful for,” said Professor Brodaty.

Australian Mental Health Prize 2019
Winners of the Australian Mental Health Prize, Christine Morgan and Joe Williams, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison at UNSW Sydney.

Joe Williams, Dubbo NSW

Joe Williams, a Wiradjuri/Wolgalu man and former professional rugby league player, is an Indigenous mental health campaigner working in communities across Australia.

For most of his life, he has battled with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, Mr Williams was driven to help people to overcome mental health challenges through his organisation The Enemy Within. He now speaks at motivational workshops in some of the most remote communities in the country, including remote East Arnhem Land and the Kimberley. 

“When I was experiencing mental health issues, I didn’t speak to anyone about what was going on inside my head,” said Mr Williams. “Rugby league was a tough man’s sport so I didn’t want to show what I thought at the time was weakness.  There is still considerable stigma that still exists around mental illness today, you can only imagine what it was like 20 years ago.”

“After I attempted suicide, I started to talk to people about my struggles, which in turn led to speaking in schools, sports clubs and elsewhere. The conversation was alive. The more I helped people heal from their traumas and tough times with mental illness, the more it started to help me."

“I deliver a lot of programs in regional and remote communities because the suicide rates are astronomically higher due to lack of services. As Aboriginal people, we have some of the highest suicide rates in the world. Our wellbeing is deeply embedded within the land. My biggest healer has been connection to culture and country.

“I am extremely humbled to be named a dual winner of this year’s Australian Mental Health Prize and would like to acknowledge the incredible work of my fellow finalists. We are all in this together. The work The Enemy Within does is about alleviating the despair that people face with mental health challenges every day. Suicide prevention starts in the family home, around the kitchen table. If you see someone struggling, don't wait for them to reach out, find out." 

Christine Morgan, Lane Cove NSW

Christine Morgan is the CEO of the National Mental Health Commission, tasked with bringing together the 2030 Vision for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and associated system reform for Australia. As former CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, she led a collaborative advocacy strategy that included amplification of eating disorders as a serious mental and physical health issue.

“I am incredibly honoured to have been selected as a dual winner of the Australian Mental Health Prize. It provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on the journey to date, and to acknowledge the dedication and support of the mental health sector and people experiencing mental illness,” says Ms Morgan.

“Just as we will suffer from physical ailments, there will be times when our mental health and wellbeing will need attention and care. That is part of being human."

In July, Ms Morgan was appointed National Suicide Prevention Advisor to the Prime Minister, a role that oversees and drives a government-wide approach to suicide prevention.

“Many of us will experience mental illness, specific psychological disorders that require treatment, or we will support and care for someone with a mental illness. However, the levels of stigma are harmful and too frequently are the reason for people delaying or avoiding seeking help."

“I am inspired and driven by the stories of those who face and seek support for their mental illness – and who are testament to the fact that mental illness does not prevent anyone from living a full life in which they thrive." 

The Australian Mental Health Prize was established in 2016 by UNSW Medicine's School of Psychiatry, Australia’s pre-eminent psychiatric research department. It recognises outstanding Australians who have made major contributions to either the promotion of mental health, or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

3 October

Seven mental health champions named finalists for top prize

Ita Buttrose, Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group
Ita Buttrose, Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group, said the Prize shines a light on the selfless work of this year’s finalists who are making a positive difference in many areas.

Fleur Townley; Source: UNSW Newsroom

Seven finalists have been recognised in the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize for their contributions to improving mental health and wellbeing across Australia. 

Seven outstanding finalists have been selected for the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize. This year’s winner will be announced at a mental health forum and award ceremony at UNSW Sydney on 6 November.

The prize, now in its fourth year, recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness. 

The finalists encompass a broad cross-section of Australians dedicating their lives to improving the mental health and wellbeing of people and communities across the country.

Ita Buttrose, Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group said: “The Australian Mental Health Prize showcases the truly amazing work being done across this wonderful country to improve the mental health and wellbeing of our communities. The Prize shines a bright light on the selfless work of this year’s finalists who are making a positive difference in so many areas. They all deserve to be recognised and admired.”

The breadth of this year’s finalists demonstrates the diverse and deeply compassionate work being undertaken in many challenging areas, including improving how Australia supports veterans, emergency personnel and regional communities, to working with people struggling with eating disorders, trauma, grief and loss. Other finalists are working across system-wide reform and lifelong research, innovating ways of communicating with children and delivering culturally sensitive and appropriate care to indigenous communities.​

“Whether spurred by the insight of a deeply personal experience, or by the wisdom achieved from decades of experience, this year’s finalists have dedicated themselves to improving our knowledge and approach to mental health in Australia,” said Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty, from UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry. “It is wonderful to see so much progress being made in this challenging area.”                                                                     

Australian Mental Health Prize 2019 Finalists

Connie Boglis, Reservoir VIC

Connie Boglis is a passionate counsellor, youth worker and author who has turned her personal adversity into a positive platform for mental health reform. In 2017, Connie tragically lost her former partner, Afghanistan Veteran Jesse Bird, to mental illness. She took her grief and advocated for change within the Department of Veterans Affairs with a focus on improved transitional assistance for veterans and the need to acknowledge the role families play. Connie actively serves on national committees for Beyond Blue’s Way Back Support Service program and the Department of Veterans Affairs Open Arms Peer Mentor program, both of which have a crucial focus on outreach and peer mentoring to support individuals who have tried to commit suicide or are at risk of attempting suicide. She is working to install a sculpture in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, that will acknowledge the war that comes home and to create a place where loved ones and the general public can remember and grieve, and visitors can be educated. Connie is also the author of Once Upon a Feeling, a mindful story helping children to explore and express their emotions through creative techniques and conversations around feelings.

Christine Morgan, Lane Cove NSW

Christine Morgan is a dynamic leader in mental health care reform. She is the CEO of the National Mental Health Commission with responsibility to bring together the 2030 Vision for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and associated system reform for Australia. In July she was also appointed as Suicide Prevention Advisor to the Prime Minister for an initial period of 18 months. As former CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, she led a collaborative advocacy strategy that included amplification of eating disorders as a serious mental and physical health issue. This is now being replicated internationally. Christine is committed to listening and responding to the voice and needs of those with lived experience. She brings connection and commitment to mental health reform, built on the networks she established in the corporate world, her extensive legal expertise and her strong ability to demonstrate to people how their contribution can make a real difference. This has resulted in major policy reform, including federal government funding of $110 million for a specific Eating Disorders Item Number under the MBS (the first time a mental disorder has been recognised with its own item number).

Sue Murray, Balmain NSW

Sue Murray is currently Managing Director of the Zero Suicide Institute of Australasia, advocating for improved management of suicidality within healthcare systems and alternative pathways to emergency departments for those who are experiencing a mental ill-health crisis. Her passion for these areas stems from her six years as chief executive and research fund director with Australia’s peak advocacy organisation Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA). Under Sue’s leadership SPA championed quality improvement with several initiatives. Firstly, SPA published Australia’s first national strategy to amplify the voice and increase the participation of those with lived experience in suicide prevention. Secondly, SPA advocated for Australia’s first dedicated national research fund for suicide prevention with $12 million allocated over three years, prioritised towards accelerating knowledge into practice and supporting the next generation of new researchers. Thirdly, SPA promoted innovation through the National Research Action Plan for Suicide Prevention and knowledge sharing through shifting the national suicide prevention conference to an annual event and expanding participation three-fold. Sue is now supporting NSW Health roll out its $90 million Towards Zero Suicides initiatives.

Professor Gordon Parker, Northwood / Randwick NSW

Professor Gordon Parker AO is one of Australia’s foremost psychiatrists. He founded the Black Dog Institute and is currently Scientia Professor of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney. For nearly two decades, he was Head of the School of Psychiatry at UNSW and Director of the Division of Psychiatry at Prince of Wales and Prince Henry Hospitals. Known for employing innovative strategies to destigmatise mood disorders, including writing a successful play and a recent book of fiction, his research priority has been to define differing mood disorders with high precision and determine the effectiveness of differing therapies for separate conditions, a model challenging the current ‘one size fits all’ approach that compromises management and clinical outcomes. He was editor of the Royal Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry and inaugural psychiatrist surveyor for the Australian Council on Hospital Standards.  He has published 20 books and more than 1,000 scientific papers, was awarded the 2004 Citation Laureate as the Australian researcher most highly referenced in the field of ‘Psychiatry/Psychology,’ reflecting funding by the NHMRC for over 40 years. 

Donna Stanley, Orange NSW

Donna Stanley, a proud Gunggari Umby (woman), is a vastly experienced leader in Aboriginal mental health. With a shared experience and understanding of the negative impact that poor mental health has within Aboriginal communities, Donna is regularly sought to provide advice on initiatives to improve the mental health of Aboriginal people. Her work includes coordinating the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid Program, working with the NSW Mental Health Commission, and the NSW Auditor-General’s Report: Mental Health Service Planning for Aboriginal People in New South Wales. Donna is frequently called upon to interpret issues of grief, loss and trauma, common among Aboriginal people arriving at hospital in acute distress, and to apply her knowledge of how Aboriginal communities’ social structures influence the mental health of individuals. She is a tireless advocate for the mental health needs of her people and a deeply compassionate, ethical and skilled clinician. Donna is currently the District Coordinator for Aboriginal Mental Health and Drug & Alcohol at Western NSW Local Health District.

Tony Walker, Newport / Doncaster VIC

Associate Professor Tony Walker ASM is the CEO of Ambulance Victoria and an outstanding champion for mental health. A registered paramedic with almost 34 years’ experience as a clinician, researcher and leader within the ambulance sector in Victoria, he has made it his mission to improve the mental health and wellbeing of first responders. In 2014, when Tony became CEO of Ambulance Victoria, mental health injury was normalised as ‘just part of the job’. Anxiety, depression and PTSD were common; paramedic suicide rates were four times that of the Victorian community and three times higher than other Victorian emergency services. Tony has led a multi-year, person-centred mental health and wellbeing strategy across Ambulance Victoria that is having a measurable impact. In addition to openly sharing his own experiences, he has partnered with organisations including Beyond Blue and Phoenix Australia to better understand the mental health needs of staff, breakdown stigma and normalise conversations around mental health, and improve mental health literacy through evidence-based education and awareness programs. 

Joseph Williams, Dubbo NSW

Joe Williams is a Wiradjuri, First Nations man born in Cowra, NSW. Having lived a 15-year span as a professional sports person, playing in the NRL for South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs before switching to professional Boxing in 2009. Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe battled the majority of his life with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, he felt his purpose was to help people who struggle with mental illness through his foundation The Enemy Within. Joe is an author having released his own autobiography titled Defying the Enemy Within, in 2017 and features in the global documentary Suicide The Ripple Effect with fellow advocate Kevin Hines. In 2017 Joe was named as finalist in the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards for his work with suicide prevention and fighting for equality for Australia’s First Nations people and received the Wagga Citizen of the Year in 2015 for his work within the community, mental health and suicide prevention sectors. In 2018 he received Suicide Prevention Australia’s highest honour, a LiFE Award for his dedication and work in community in the mental health and suicide prevention sector.

The Australian Mental Health Prize was established in 2016 by UNSW through its School of Psychiatry, Australia’s pre-eminent psychiatric research department within UNSW Medicine. It recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health, or the prevention/treatment of mental illness

 

29 May 2019

UNSW Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty; Chair of the Prize Advisory Group Ita Buttrose; SANE Australia Board Director, psychiatrist and presenter of the ABC series Changing Minds Dr Mark Cross; and SANE Australia CEO and Member of the Prize Advisory Group Jack Heath launch the Prize at UNSW.
UNSW Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty; Chair of the Prize Advisory Group Ita Buttrose; SANE Australia Board Director, psychiatrist and presenter of the ABC series Changing Minds Dr Mark Cross; and SANE Australia CEO and Member of the Prize Advisory Group

2019 Australian Mental Health Prize launches at UNSW

Fleur Townley and Lucy Carroll; Source: UNSW Newsroom 

Prize is designed to help improve mental health care in Australia and ensure mental health issues are well understood by the public.

Australia’s public psychiatric system is in steady decline, with the mental health system under-resourced and health professionals facing unsustainable pressure.  

That was the message from Professor Gordon Parker, UNSW Sydney Scientia Professor of Psychiatry and Founder of the Black Dog Institute, when he launched the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize at UNSW.

Professor Parker said the prize, now in its fourth year, was a critical opportunity to recognise and acknowledge Australians working tirelessly in mental health. Nominations are now open for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

“Australia is a global leader in many areas of mental health including community awareness, public advocacy and innovative service delivery, but the pressures faced by mental health professionals in the public sector needs urgent attention,” Professor Parker said.

“I see so many young psychiatrists enter the public sector with a genuine commitment and wish to help those with serious psychiatric problems but who become profoundly disillusioned. Psychiatrists and trainees in the public sector are often unable to find beds for patients at suicidal risk. They see patients who need close observation prematurely discharged or patients who are discharged into homelessness, rather than public housing.”

Professor Parker said it was not uncommon in public hospitals for up to 30 people to be waiting for an acute psychiatric assessment every day without adequate beds available, with mental health disorders one of the leading causes of emergency room delays.

Professor Gordon Parker, UNSW Sydney Scientia Professor of Psychiatry and Founder of the Black Dog Institute.
Professor Gordon Parker, UNSW Sydney Scientia Professor of Psychiatry and Founder of the Black Dog Institute.

“By the time we recognise how serious the situation is, I am concerned we will have passed the tipping point and it will be too late to make the significant changes necessary to turn things around.”

Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty, acting head of the UNSW School of Psychiatry, agreed with Professor Parker’s concerns and believes it is more important than ever to publicly acknowledge the work of psychiatrists and people working across all areas of mental health.

Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group, Ita Buttrose, said the prize is helping to improve mental health care in Australia and ensure mental health stays top of mind for Australians.  

“Australia has an enviable track record in the delivery of innovative programs, services and promotional campaigns in relation to mental health, however there is still much work to be done, particularly in our over-stretched public system,” Ms Buttrose explained.

“I would like to see this year’s prize highlight some of the world-class work being done in the field of mental health, to give hope not only to those with mental illness and their families, but other mental health professionals working in this challenging area.”

Professor Brodaty added: “The mental health sector can be a demanding and difficult area to work in and it is vital that we acknowledge and celebrate the important work that’s being done. Mental illness is something that affects our whole community, and the Australian Mental Health Prize is a valuable way to highlight progress being made.”

Professor Parker said it was important for those working in the mental health sector to recognise the progress our colleagues are making in research and advocacy to drive real change and improve patient outcomes.

“We must recognise and acknowledge those individuals who are making headway in the area of mental health,” said Professor Brodaty. “We encourage clinicians, health professionals, community groups and individuals to nominate the people they feel are making a real difference in the area of mental health research, advocacy or service delivery for the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize.”

How to nominate

To enter, nominees must provide a CV and 200 words outlining the work being undertaken and how it is making an impact. Nomination forms can be obtained from: australianmentalhealthprize.org.au

Entries close on 30 August 2019. Six finalists will be announced during Mental Health Week running from 6-12 October 2019, with the winner awarded on 26 November 2019.

29 May 2019

Overburdened psychiatrists abandon 'broken' public system - The Sydney Morning Herald

Kate Aubusson; Source: SMH 

Australia’s public psychiatric system is in slow and painful decline, with “profoundly disillusioned” psychiatrists leaving for private practice, senior specialists warn.

The “psychiatric breakdown of the public system” is driving away overburdened psychiatrists who were dedicated to treating some of the most vulnerable mentally ill patients, UNSW Scientia Professor Gordon Parker says.

The veteran public hospital psychiatrist and founder of the Black Dog Institute will call for urgent reforms to arrest “the slow death in quality” in public psychiatric care at the launch of the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize at UNSW on Wednesday.

Read full article. 

 

2018

19 October 2018

Why the ‘outlook is good’ for mental illness

Source: Sarah Berry, SMH

With 80 years of experience between them in the mental health space, Gavin Andrews and Janne McMahon have been privy to significant changes in both understanding and approach.

On Friday evening, at the University of New South Wales, they were announced as the dual winners of the 2018 Australian Mental Health Award.

Read full article

 

14 July 2018

Do you know a leader in mental health?

Do you know a leader in mental health?

Source: Inside UNSW

Nominations are now open for a national prize established by UNSW to recognise people leading the promotion of mental health and the treatment of mental illness.

Australians making exceptional contributions to promoting mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness can now be nominated for the Australian Mental Health Prize.

Lucy Brogden, the National Mental Health Commission Chair, launched this year’s prize at UNSW Sydney recently.

The prize, now in its third year, was established by UNSW through its School of Psychiatry, Australia’s pre-eminent psychiatric research department.

Mrs Brogden is a psychologist and advocate for mental health support in the workplace and community.

“I am proud to be part of this year’s search to recognise Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness in areas such as advocacy, research or service,” said Mrs Brogden, who brings professional and personal experience to her role.

“As many people know, I have personal experience with a family member with mental illness, and throughout the journey, I have seen a strong culture of continuing improvement in mental health services across Australia.

“People can have confidence in the mental health system. There are so many dedicated staff and volunteers who work hard every day delivering high-quality services that make a difference to people’s lives,” Mrs Brogden said.?“I’d like Australians to recognise their work. This is why I strongly encourage people to nominate these unsung individuals.

“I also want to encourage people to consider looking for a job in mental health and to realise what a valuable career choice it is. Caring for someone with a mental illness can be very rewarding.”

Mrs Brogden’s husband John, a former leader of the NSW Liberal Party and current chairman of Lifeline Australia, has long spoken about his battles with mental illness.

“I know how vital it is that people know they do not need to go it alone,” said Mrs Brogden. “Care can begin with a single conversation. However, many of those in need don’t realise they have a wide range of services available that deliver a high standard of care for them when they are at a vulnerable period in their life.”

Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell, Head of the School of Psychiatry, said the prize was established in 2016 to acknowledge those who were doing innovative work, whether they were involved in the industry as a vocation or were advocates because they had been touched by mental illness.

“Anyone who knows of such a person would no doubt appreciate their achievements, but I would encourage them to take it one step further and nominate them for the Australian Mental Health Prize. This allows us all to recognise their work and dedication,” Philip said.

Mrs Brogden said one of the biggest challenges was to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

“Stigma stops many people from seeking help,” she said. “I’d like to see an end to this. Addressing misconceptions and discrimination related to mental illness is vital because an astonishingly large number of Australian adults will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime.”

Ita Buttrose, Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Board, said there are hundreds, if not thousands of people in our community who deserve recognition.

“They may be working within the industry, as last year’s co-winner Professor Allan Fels is, or have become a tireless advocate because of personal experience of living with a mental illness, like the 2018 co-winner, Janet Meagher,” she said. “We urge people who know someone making a significant contribution in this field to nominate them.

“One in three Australians will experience a mental health issue, but those affected by mental illness include everyone in the orbit of an individual – those in their home life, work environment and their general support network. This means there are many millions of Australians touched by mental health issues. Acknowledging those who work or volunteer in the industry is an important part of the process to destigmatising mental illness.”

Last year the prize was awarded to joint winners: Janet Meagher, a champion for the rights of people with mental health issues, and Professor Allan Fels, Chairman of the National Mental Health Commission.

To enter, nominees must provide a CV and 200 words outlining the work being undertaken and how it is making an impact. Nomination forms are now available. Entries close on 7 September 2018. Six finalists will be chosen with the winner announced in October.

Photo by Grant Turner: UNSW Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission Lucy Brogden, and Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group chair Ita Buttrose launch the Prize at UNSW.

 

26 June 2018

Mental health care can begin with a single conversation

Lucy Brogden launches the 2018 Australian Mental Health Prize with a personal request for nominations.

Mental illness has been increasingly in the news recently, sparking many conversations in the media and across the dining room table. Psychologist and chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Lucy Brogden, hopes this will create greater awareness in the community and break down misconceptions around this topic.

Read full article
 

March 2018

Janet Meagher AM honoured as joint Recipient of the 2017 Australian Mental Health Prize – Panorama Magazine

Read full article 

*Please contact via email: austmhprize@unsw.edu.au for an accessible version.

2017

21st November 2017

Janet Meagher, a champion for the rights of people with mental health issues, and Professor Allan Fels, Chairman of the National Mental Health Commission, have been awarded the Australian Mental Health Prize.

2017 Australian Mental Health Prize Winners
2017 Australian Mental Health Prize Winners. Left: Ms Janet Meagher. Right: Professor Allan Fels

Ms Meagher, who has been living with schizophrenia for almost 50 years, has dedicated her life to ensure a care and support system that is humane, responsive and respectful. Her advocacy focuses on hope for people living with mental illness, along with access to rehabilitation, recovery, reintegration and support services in all service frameworks.

“I think of the many thousands of Australians who struggle for the hope and resilience to live their lives while living with mental health issues. My award is dedicated to them,” Ms Meagher said.

“I hold a precious responsibility to represent people living with mental distress and to be a voice. It must always reflect the proper use of power, voice and status and respect the dignity of those we represent.”

Professor Fels has also had close experience of mental health issues. His daughter had a difficult childhood and at the age of 25, psychosis set in. She was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Understanding the needs of people with persistent and serious mental health issues, he helped to establish The Haven Foundation and its specialist accommodation in South Yarra, Melbourne, which helps provide long-term affordable accommodation, support and care for people living with severe and persistent mental illness. This is where his daughter currently lives.

“This is a great honour, although there are countless thousands of heroes working in this field and I don’t feel I’ve made a greater contribution than any of them,” Professor Fels said. “Looking ahead I see two giant challenges: the first is making mental illness a higher priority for the community and the second is greatly improving the way the present system operates.”

More information

Above: 2017 Australian Mental Health Prize Winners. Left: Ms Janet Meagher. Right: Professor Allan Fels

 

26th June, 2017

Launch of 2017 Australian Mental Health Prize

Greta Bradman turns the spotlight on mental wellbeing of performers

Award-winning Australian soprano and mental health advocate, Greta Bradman, will launch the 2017 Australian Mental Health Prize on June 26, seeking nominations to recognise Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness in areas such as advocacy, research or service.

Greta Bradman, who is a classical singer, radio broadcaster and provisional clinical psychologist, was recently appointed to the Prize Advisory Group.

“I am delighted to join the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group and launch the call for nominations this year. I am very passionate about being part of the conversation around mental health for a number of reasons. I’ve experienced first-hand how debilitating mental illness can be and I understand personally and professionally that while it can take time to find a treatment plan to suit an individual, effective treatment is out there,” said Ms Bradman.

“I have witnessed the impact of mental health issues on people who work within the performing arts too, an area that until recently has received little to no attention from researchers, let alone tailored interventions or positive psychological tools for supporting good mental health.

“Unfortunately, Australian adults who work within the performing arts sector are twice as likely to attempt suicide and five to seven times more likely to consider suicide than the general population. There are much higher rates of sleep dysfunction, substance use and alcohol intake, greater lifetime mental illness and more symptoms of depression and anxiety too. There are also other areas of the community that are disproportionately represented with mental health problems, including emergency services workers.

“Australia has an opportunity to be a real leader in the area of mental health. There is so much important work underway and so much more to be done including further research, advocacy and service provision towards the treatment and prevention of mental illness, and also towards supporting and promoting positive mental health in the community and in the workplace. These might be community driven, online or grassroots.

“That is why the Australian Mental Health Prize is so important. I strongly encourage people to nominate those making a difference as recognition of people who contribute to the mental health of Australians is critical.”

To read the full 4-page media release please click here: Download

2016

8th December 2016

The recipient of the inaugural Australian Mental Health Prize says more needs to be done to address the links between physical and mental healthcare.

Kim Ryan and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Last night the award was presented to Australian College of Mental Health Nurses chief executive Kim Ryan by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Canberra-based advocate, with more than 25 years’ experience in the mental health sector, was recognised for her promotion and support of mental health nursing.

Ms Ryan said she was “overwhelmed” by the win, and hoped to use the award to challenge the misconception that patients’ mental and physical conditions should be treated separately. She said part of the answer was to ensure all nurses were “competent and confident” in dealing with all problems experienced by patients.

“A lot of people, they think it’s either physical health or it’s mental health,” she said. “People that have coronary heart attacks, they have an increased rate by three per cent, of suicide within the [following] 12 months. So we actually need the nurses that are working in coronary care to understand that there are mental health implications associated with the work that they do.”

The prize was established by the University of New South Wales and a group of prominent Australians, headed up by media personality and businesswoman Ita Buttrose.

“Mental health nurses are often at the frontline when it comes to working with people who experience mental health issues in the community. Kim’s work demonstrates the enormous difference that specially-trained mental health nurses can make in the recovery of people with mental illness,” Ita Buttrose said.

Ms Ryan said the prize increased much-needed attention for mental health work.

“We still have a lot to do to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and I think having opportunities like this to showcase what people have done in the field also provides the community with better understanding,” she said.

“We have people who have … complicated mental health conditions that are dying 25 years earlier than the rest of the population. Unless we actually get people to understand the importance of the work that people in the field of mental health do, we’re not going to address the life expectancy gaps for those people.”

Article from ABC
 

14th November 2016

Finalists announced in first Australian Mental Health Prize

An Indigenous former football star who runs a suicide prevention charity, a veteran- turned-author who crossed the Bass Strait in a tinnie, and a woman who developed the world’s first Mental Health First Aid program are just three of the seven finalists in the first Australian Mental Health Prize.

Launched earlier this year by Dame Quentin Bryce, the aim of the Australian Mental Health Prize is to recognise Australians who have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of mental health, or the prevention and treatment of mental illness, in areas such as advocacy, research or service provision.

Ita Buttrose, Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group, said, “Mental illness is extremely common, with one in five Australians experiencing some form of mental illness in any given year. Nearly half of all Australians will experience mental illness during their lifetime. The aim of this Prize is to help reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness, and raise awareness of some of the ground-breaking and life-changing work that is going on in Australia in relation to mental health.”

Selected from an impressive field of more than 130 submissions from across the country, the seven finalists come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds, and are involved in a wide variety of projects and programs.

“We were incredibly impressed by the calibre of submissions, especially as this is the very first year of the Prize,” said Scientia Professor Phillip Mitchell, Head of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Psychiatry. “Australia is a world- leader in many aspects of mental health, including raising community awareness, public advocacy and the provision of innovative services, so it is heartening to see some of this work, and the people who are undertaking it, get this well-deserved recognition. We had nominations for mental health nurses, people living with mental illness, community advocates, researchers, people on the frontline delivering mental health services, right up to senior executives from some of our most well-known mental health organisations.”

“The UNSW School of Psychiatry is very proud to be involved in this prestigious Prize,” said Henry Brodaty, Scientia Professor of Ageing and Mental Health at UNSW. “It is our hope that this Prize will help to raise awareness of some of the incredible work being done around Australia in the field of mental health, and provide an incentive to organisations to continually improve services and outcomes for people living with mental illness.”

The seven finalists are being recognised for their work across a number of different areas, including suicide prevention, youth mental health, mental health first aid and mental health nursing.

The winner of the Australian Mental Health Prize will be announced at the formal award ceremony event at UNSW on 7 December 2016.