The Australian Mental Health Prize

The Australian Mental Health Prize has been established by the University of New South Wales through its School of Psychiatry, Australia’s pre-eminent psychiatric research department, and will recognise major contributions to mental health.

The Importance of Mental Health in Australia

Mental illnesses are common and highly disabling. In any one year, one in five adult Australians, and one in seven children aged 4 to 17 will experience some form of mental illness. One in three of us will have a mental illness in our lifetime.

  • Mental illness impacts severely on our capacity to work, to earn a living; and maintain close relationships.
  • The average lifespan of people with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is shortened by 10-15 years.
  • Suicide rates are still unacceptably high, with over 2,000 Australians taking their own life each year.
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death in males under 45.

Why establish the Australian Mental Health Prize

Australia has led the way internationally in many aspects of mental health, such as community awareness, public advocacy and innovative services. Our open public discourse involving politicians and high profile individuals occurs in few other countries. Programs that include beyondblue, the national depression initiative, and headspace, the national network of youth mental health services.

The Australian Mental Health Prize will:

1. Acknowledge and recognise the important and ground-breaking work that many Australians are doing for mental health;
2. Raise public awareness on the importance of mental health; and
3. Provide an incentive to improve services and outcomes for people with mental illness.

What are the criteria for the Australian Mental Health Prize?

The Prize will be awarded annually to an Australian who has made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health, or the prevention/treatment of mental illness – in areas such as advocacy, research or service provision. The prize will recognise contributions undertaken in Australia which are of national significance.

Who is involved with the Prize?

The prize has been established by a group of eminent Australians in partnership with the University of New South Wales.


The Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group






Ita Buttrose AO OBE is a journalist, businesswoman, television personality and author. Ita was the founding editor of Cleo Magazine. Ita is a National Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia, and was Australian of the Year in 2013. (NSW)





Professor The Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO has held previous roles including the NSW State Governor, Chancellor of the University, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney. (NSW)


Judy Brewer AO is currently chair of the Autism CRC Ltd, Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders. (VIC)


Professor Allan Fels AO is the current Chair of the National Mental Health Commission. He was formerly Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Professor Fels is an Honorary Professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, and a Professorial Fellow – Department of Political Science, University of Melbourne. He is also a consultant for law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler. (VIC)


Adam Gilchrist AM is a former Australian Test Cricketer. Adam is a Television Sports Commentator, and was formerly Chair of the Australia Day Council. (WA)


Jack Heath is the CEO of Sane Australia. (VIC)


Professor Patrick McGorry AO is the Executive Director of Orygen. He is a Professor of Youth Mental Health at the  University of Melbourne, and was Australian of the Year 2010. (VIC)


Ben Quilty is an award winning artist of the Archibald Prize in 2011, and Prudential Eye Award 2014. He was Official War Artist for the Australian Mission to Afghanistan. (NSW)


Jessica Rowe AM is a television news presenter and author. She is a beyondblue Ambassador and Patron of its work on postnatal depression. (NSW)


Sophie Scott is the ABC’s National Medical Reporter. Sophie has won the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Medical Reporting, and is also a recipient of  Research Australia’s Health Research in the Media Award. She is an Author, and currently a board member of the Australian Medical Association NSW Charitable Foundation. (NSW)


UNSW Members



Professor Ian Jacobs – is President and Vice-Chancellor of UNSW Australia. Professor Jacobs came to Australia from the UK, where he had a distinguished career as a leading researcher in the area of women’s health and cancer and in university leadership.


Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell AM – is Head of the School of Psychiatry at UNSW Australia. He is a member of the NHMRC Research Committee; a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Prince of Wales Hospital, and Director of the Bipolar Disorders Clinic at the Black Dog Institute. He is previously been a Guest Professor at the Shanghai Jiaotong University, and Visiting Professor at Harbin Medical University, China. He is a Board Member of the Black Dog Institute, and Board Member of the Anika Foundation for Adolescent Depression and Suicide.


Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty AO – is Scientia Professor of Ageing and Mental Health at UNSW Australia; Consultant Psychogeriatrician in Aged Care Psychiatry, and Head of the Memory Disorders Clinic, Prince of Wales Hospital. He is the Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing at UNSW.


Professor Valsamma Eapen – is Chair of the Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UNSW Australia; and Head of the Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry, South West Sydney (AUCS). She is also a research theme leader for the Autism Co-operative Research Centre.


Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev AM – is the Scientia Professor of Neuropsychiatry at UNSW Australia; the Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW; and the Clinical Director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI) at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney.


Isabella Cheung – is Acting School Manager of the School of Psychiatry at UNSW.