Nominations open for the Australian Mental Health Prize

Winners and presenters of the Australian Mental Health Prize 2023.

THE call for nominations for the ninth Australian Mental Health Prize comes with a message that urges the need to foster compassionate communities.

“Recent events have underscored the importance of supporting one another during challenging times,” said Co-Chairs of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group, Lucy Brogden AM and Allan Fels AO.

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“It is also imperative that we have responsible conversations that challenge stigma and misinformation surrounding mental health.

“With almost half of Australians facing mental health challenges in their lifetime, it’s clear that no community is untouched by these issues,” they said.

The Australian Mental Health Prize was established in 2016 by UNSW Medicine and Health through its School of Psychiatry, Australia’s pre-eminent psychiatric research department.

It recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health, or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

The prize serves as a reminder of the importance of recognising individuals who have made significant contributions to mental health promotion, advocacy and service provision.

Categories include Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, lived experience, professional and community hero. Nominations close on July 8, 2024.

“As the community navigates these challenges, it is crucial to acknowledge the impact on the loved ones of victims and to recognise the tireless efforts of first responders and healthcare teams,” Ms Brogden said.

“Together, we must continue to uphold one another during these trying times.

“Tragic events within our communities often serve as a stark reminder of the fragility of mental health and the profound impact it has on individuals and society as a whole.”

Professor Valsamma Eapen, an expert in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from UNSW Medicine and Health, says our compassion should also be front of mind in our age-appropriate conversations with our children.

“Speak to children about tragic events in a simple, reassuring manner,” she said.

“Let them know it’s okay to feel sad or confused.

“Be ready to answer questions calmly, acknowledging that they might hear about it from friends.

“Reassure them you’re there to talk and support them.

“It is important to look out for any change in behaviours such as reluctance to go out, being withdrawn, having sleep issues or acting out.”

Professor Allan Fels has family lived experience of complex and enduring mental health.

He says that recent events have heightened concerns, especially among those with mental health issues.

“Notably, 45 percent of Australians will face mental health challenges in their lifetime,” he said.

“We must handle discussions about mental health carefully, ensuring they are responsible, inclusive and free from harmful stereotypes.

“Recognising that those with mental health issues are often victims, not perpetrators, let’s avoid assumptions and stigmatising individuals with severe mental illness and their support networks.”

Professor Kimberlie Dean, Chair of Forensic Psychiatry at UNSW Sydney and member of the Prize’s Advisory Committee, speaks to the intricate nature of mental health challenges.

“In grappling with the complexities of mental health, we must acknowledge the absence of simple solutions.

“Communities are instrumental in fostering environments of understanding, support, and destigmatisation.

“Yet, we must also confront the reality of service gaps and limitations.

“Mental health funding remains disproportionately low relative to the burden of disease, necessitating increased investment and reform in the mental health system.”

To nominate deserving candidates who have shown outstanding dedication to mental health in their communities visit


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