CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Why climate action in Australia matters for mental health


With the Glasgow Climate Change Conference set to begin next week, it’s great to see climate change action is high on the global, and national agenda.

Over the last 130 years, the planet has become approximately 0.85°C warmer. The level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses emitted through human activity since the start of the Industrial Era has led to heat becoming trapped in the lower atmosphere.

Human activity has affected the global climate, leading to significant health — including mental health — impacts.

Our position statement on climate change calls attention to a number of ways climate impacts mental health.

More extreme weather events and natural disasters can have a psychological toll in stress and anxiety. As our member organisation, SANE explores in its Life After Bushfires resources, bushfires can be traumatic and can lead to a range of distressing experiences. They may also exacerbate existing symptoms of mental ill-health.

While we’ve spoken throughout the last eighteen months about the mental health toll of the pandemic, research shows Australians are three times more worried about climate change than they are about COVID-19. We have been warned: we’re at risk of widespread “eco-anxiety, climate disaster-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and future-orientated despair.”

The impacts of climate change will not be uniformly felt. Rather, it will exacerbate social and economic inequalities that already exist. Those in rural and remote areas will be more likely to face the stress and trauma of drought and bushfires. People with existing illnesses may find that heatwaves disproportionately affect their health and mental health.

As the Australian Council of Social Service writes, climate change is a particular challenge for the community services sector. Smaller and medium-sized organisations are more likely to struggle from losses resulting from extreme weather events. Half may not recover at all. At the same time, those organisations that provide services to disadvantaged people are more likely to be needed in the face of these extreme events.

Climate change is predicted to cause immense cultural loss. One example was explored by an episode of ABC’s 7.30 earlier this year, where rising sea levels are shown to already be threatening the homes of Torres Strait islanders. As Yessie Mosby commented for the program:

This whole island, Masig, is our library. It has knowledge. It has history. It has ancestral connection which ties us back to this land. Masig is our maternity ward. This Masig is our hospital. This island is our supermarket. It provides us with our food. It feeds us. It gives us shelter.

Losing such deep, enduring connections is likely to lead to trauma of an incomprehensible scale. We have witnessed this ourselves in Australia through the stories of transgenerational traumatic impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of being disenfranchised and forcibly disconnected from their land.

As our Mental Health Australia position statement points out though, there is hope:

The mental health sector witnesses time and again the deep resilience, adaptability, strength, and practical optimism of human beings in the face of overwhelming personal and collective challenges. We can and must bring all of these resources to bear to in addressing the health threats of climate change.

In May this year, we were also proud to sign the health sector’s Open Letter to the Prime Minister to reduce emissions and save lives.

And we know that caring for the environment has mental health benefits. Sunlight, green space, and opportunities to explore and be active in the world can lead to greater well-being. 

There are many ways we can get involved in environmental activities, such as joining citizen science initiatives, environmental clean-up events, community garden projects, and more. For example, this week we met with Alison Hill who has some well-developed ideas to link people and parks for the benefit of their well-being.

We can do this as we campaign for wider systemic change, more ambitious targets, and a sectoral-wide endorsement of climate action.

Have a good weekend, and enjoy this beautiful environment which we must to protect

Dr Leanne Beagley

Federal Government urged to tackle mental health and wellbeing crisis by investing in social prescribing

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and Mental Health Australia are urging the government to implement a national social prescribing scheme to tackle Australia’s mental health and wellbeing crisis in the 2021 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). Read more.

Congratulations to TheMHS Awards Winners

People from all parts of mental health services have been recognised for their vital contributions to addressing mental health issues across Australia and New Zealand, in the TheMHS Mental Health Service Awards. Mental Health Australia would like to join TheMHS in recognition of the following individuals, organisations, and projects:

Education, Training or Workforce Development Award: e-Mental Health in Practice, for its programme, eMHPrac – providing training and support to health practitioners in using digital mental health.

Lived Experience Leadership Award: Lived Experience Australia for its programme, Making a difference with and for consumers and carers.

Mental Health Promotion or Mental Illness Prevention Award: The Matilda Centre, University Of Sydney for Climate Schools: Internet-based health and wellbeing programs for secondary school students.

Mental Health Promotion or Mental Illness Prevention Award: Arts Centre Melbourne, for The Arts Wellbeing Collective.

Psychosocial and Support Award: ACT Recovery College for ACT Recovery College Trial.

Therapeutic and Clinical Services Award: Tū Ora Compass Health for Piki: Empowering and supporting rangatahi towards better health and wellbeing.

Therapeutic and Clinical Services Award: Orygen Digital for Moderated Online Social Therapy (MOST): digitally enhancing youth mental health services.

General Award: Kapiti Youth Support, for The KYS Approach.

Early Career Research Award: Stephen Parker, for his work, “Understanding community-based residential mental health rehabilitation services in Australia”.

Early Career Research Award: Katrina Prior, for her work, “‘Inroads’ and ‘Re-Train Your Brain’: Innovative internet-delivered interventions for young people who drink to cope with anxiety”.

Sound and Vision Journalism Award: Sam Ikin with Butterfly Foundation, for Butterfly: Let’s Talk podcast.

Text and Online Journalism Award: Bridget Judd, for her article, “It takes a village”.

Exceptional Contribution Award: Fran Silvestri in recognition of a highly skilled and creative collaborator, becoming a crucial connector within the mental health community and bringing significant contribution to leadership within the mental health sector locally, nationally and globally.

Wellbeing in the Workplace Category: Air New Zealand for Air New Zealand Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme.


Image of a person, bird, and flower superimposed over the shape outline of Australia.

October is Mental Health Month

You can still make a #MentalHealthPromise via the Look after your mental health, Australia website. And catch up on some great video tips our partners, comedians, athletes, and others have made for looking after your mental health.

Happiness on the horizon: mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals revealed

New research from Mental Health Australia has revealed how healthcare professionals have been faring on the frontline, and how support from family and friends remains crucial to their wellbeing. According to the research results, 74% of healthcare professionals said restrictions resulting from COVID-19 outbreaks have had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Of the respondents, 86% said that working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience in the workplace. However, the majority (58%) said they were feeling more positive about the future and felt they were better able to cope now, compared to working under pandemic conditions last year. Read more.

Jam Pakt — Indigenous Radio Program a highlight this Mental Health Month

Jam Pakt is a one-hour entertainment-driven radio program designed specifically for Indigenous audiences across the country, delivered to a network of 269 Indigenous markets/stations across Australia. The show during Mental Health Month was dedicated to promoting World Mental Health Day and the idea of Looking Up, Looking Out for each other and Looking Forward to #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia and featured The Hon Ken Wyatt MP, Troy Cassar Daley, Shari Sebbens, Shellie Morris, Joe Williams, Hunter Page-Lochard, Dr Clinton Schultz, and more. Catch up with Jonzy and the mob here.


On Tuesday I have a Mental Health Australia Board Governance Committee meeting and on Wednesday our Canberra-based team will have our first catch up in person after weeks of lockdown. Later there is a meeting of the Mental Health Working Group of IPHA and a National Mental Health Workforce Strategy Taskforce Meeting

On Thursday I am looking forward to a webinar workshop with the National Register of Mental Health Consumers and Carers. And later I have a meeting with the National Disability and Carer Alliance.

On Friday I hope you can join me for a live panel discussion via webinar for the launch of the LGBTIQ+ Health Australia’s (LHA), Beyond Urgent: National LGBTIQ+ Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategy.


Member Benefits, Jobs and Profiles

Communicate your news, job vacancies, or upcoming events to more than 5,000 people in the mental health ecosystem weekly.

Mental Health Australia members are invited to send us news, announcements, job vacancies, events or other notices for inclusion in the Weekly CEO Update newsletter. To do so, simply fill out this form by COB each Wednesday for your notice to appear in the newsletter the following Friday.


Job vacancies

The Australian Psychological Society is seeking a Senior Media & Communications Advisor and a Senior Marketing Lead - Campaigns to join their Marketing & Communications Department. The Senior Media & Communications Advisor leads and manages all APS media, social media, and communications strategy and activity. The Senior Marketing Lead manages digital campaigns, including all project planning, briefing, and campaign execution and analysis. They also act as a brand guardian across the organisation. These roles are open to applicants in all parts of Australia.

The Federal Government announced in the May Federal Budget the creation of a National Suicide Prevention Office as a separate office within the National Mental Health Commission. The National Suicide Prevention Office will set strategic directions, build capabilities, support cross jurisdiction and cross portfolio action and report on the agreed outcomes. The Commission is now recruiting for the position of Head, National Suicide Prevention Office. The Head of the National Suicide Prevention Office will be responsible for leading and managing a substantial program of work, setting performance expectations, monitoring and evaluating performance outcomes to contribute to the achievement of the Office’s objectives.  

Member Profiles

Ostara Australia Limited
Ostara Australia is a national not-for-profit organisation that works closely with the Australian Government, member organisations, communities and employers to place people disadvantaged through age, health, disability or cultural background into sustainable employment. Their holistic approach is to address both the vocational and non-vocational barriers faced by disadvantaged job seekers. As such, they deliver personalised employment services, whilst also working in collaboration with countless community and welfare organisations to help job seekers with any mental, cultural or emotional challenges.

Eating Disorders Queensland
Eating Disorders Queensland is a statewide, community-based not-for-profit organisation. We provide community support and treatment services for individuals and families living with and recovering from eating disorders, their carers and loved ones. By the sharing of recovery wisdom we aim to involve people with a lived experience, carers and family members and loved ones. We promote positive body image and prevention of eating disorders. Therapeutic interventions for individuals living with eating disorders and carer coaching/ support families/key support  and friends are also offered.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

CALD Mental Health Consumer and Carer Group: recruiting now!

The Embrace Project is looking for participants from across Australia who are passionate about multicultural mental health and ready to contribute to the next phase of the project to achieve real change.
As part of the National Consumer and Carer Group you will:

  • Provide insight into multicultural mental health, particularly the views and interests of diverse mental health consumers and carers
  • offer solutions and strategies for improving the outcomes for all people who are living with mental health issues and their carers
  • assist in project implementation and ensuring meaningful project outcomes 
  • support the distribution of national approaches
  • provide links to local multicultural communities
  • review communication and other documents
  • and so much more

Group Members may be eligible for the payment of sitting fees and all travel and accommodation expenses associated with meeting attendance, will be paid for.

Memberships are limited, and to be considered, either complete the online form or download the expression of interest form available here and submit by 11.45pm AEST 7 November 2021.

Successful candidates will be requested to attend the next virtual meeting in early December.

The 2021 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium 

The 2021 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will be held online from 3-5 and 8 November. Leanne Beagley will be a keynote speaker on Workforce challenges in rural and remote mental health and the place of systemic solutions. 

Additionally the Embrace Project Manager Ruth Das has been a Committee member for the symposium will present a paper on ways to ensure rural and remote mental health services are relevant to people from CALD backgrounds, and chair a number of sessions.

Embrace Australia logo (a rectangle with a light and dark purple cultural stripe pattern with "embrace" and stylised outline of the Australian continent in the lower right corner).


Mental Health News

$130 million to fast track state’s mental health recovery

The NSW Government’s economic roadmap has mental health as a top priority with a record $130 million to provide immediate access to help for anyone whose mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding boost will provide more appointments for psychology and psychiatry services, address the sharp rise in eating disorders and self-harm presentations, free up more mental health beds and launch the biggest suicide prevention training program ever undertaken. 

Read more

headspace welcomes record $20m NSW Government investment in youth mental health workforce

headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, has welcomed today’s announcement of a $20 million commitment from the New South Wales Government to bolster its youth mental health workforce over the next two years. In recognition of the added demand for headspace services since the outbreak of COVID-19, the funding package will grow the number of mental health professionals in NSW headspace centres, providing up to 55,000 additional services to young people.

Read more

New website helps young Canberrans navigate mental health support 

A new online tool, MindMap, has launched to help young Canberrans better navigate mental health services and resources. This will improve understanding and access to the many support services available so young people are empowered to make informed decisions for their mental health and wellbeing needs. The website helps children and young people under 25 to navigate support in a practical, safe and anonymous way by providing information on expected wait times, how to access services, advising if a referral is required and linking to resources which are best suited to their needs. 

Read more

Mental health support through and beyond the pandemic

Minister for Mental Health, James Merlino, says as lockdown ends thanks to the incredible efforts of Victorians stepping up to get vaccinated, the Victorian Government is providing more mental health support for the community as the state recovers from the pandemic. “The Government’s 20 pop-up mental health services are now open and taking referrals for in-person and telehealth appointments to reach those who need support right across the state - with locations in every region to ensure everyone can access quality care, no matter where they live.”

Read more



Blue Knot Day 28 October

A big part of Blue Knot’s mission is building awareness across the community about what it means to be trauma-informed. This year, the Blue Knot Day Festival of Healing program includes people with a lived experience of complex trauma sharing their experiences of what helped them in their path to recovery and their reflections on a trauma-informed community. We also hear from trauma-informed advocates and change agents sharing their ideas and experiences and have the opportunity to participate in trauma-informed activities. Find out more about the day and activities here.

Psychology Week 2021 – Working Minds Panel Discussion

Many workplaces have undergone a significant transformation throughout the pandemic. Psychology Week 2021 – “Working Minds” – will explore what it means to be a mentally health workplace, and the role every business, employer and employee can play. At this Zoom breakfast panel on 29 November, 8.30-9.30am, experts in workplace wellbeing will discuss new research developed in partnership with the University of Melbourne into job crafting, passion and psychological safety at work – and why wellbeing should be a priority in every workplace. 

Disability Provider Alert 18 October 2021

The Department of Health has issued its next COVID-19 vaccination – Disability Provider  Alert 18 October 2021. This provider alert along with other resources and information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is available from a dedicated web page for disability service providers on the Department of Health website.

Public release of the Steering Group Report and commencement of 10 Year Plan consultation

The Consultation Draft of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan Care draws on input from consultations with individuals and organisations across the country from late 2019 to mid-2021. The plan represents a high-level response to the recommendations of the Primary Health Reform Steering Group which has been working since October 2019 on future directions for primary health care reform. The Government wants to hear from people and organisations with an interest in primary health care and in what a future-focused system can deliver under the Quadruple Aim to: Improve people’s experience of care; Improve the health of populations; Improve the cost-efficiency of the health system; Improve the work life of health care providers. Please note that Leanne has represented Mental Health Australia and the mental health perspective on the Steering Committee for this Strategy.

Reducing Social Isolation for Seniors Grant Program – Round 2

The NSW government has established a $600,000 fund to address social isolation for older people and to fund projects that address the challenges and barriers that contribute to social isolation. 
Applications are open to local council and incorporated not-for-profit community organisations that meet the eligibility criteria. Applications will be considered for projects that help older people to participate, contribute to and be included in their communities in NSW. Up to $600,000 will be allocated in one-off funding opportunities of between $10,000 and $60,000 for initiatives and projects to reduce social isolation for older people.  Applications are OPEN now until 15 November 2021.

30 Years of Impact: Insights to lead the future of Australian palliative care

This year Palliative Care Australia (PCA) celebrates 30 years of advocating for quality palliative care for all who need it, when and where they need it. PCA CEO, Camilla Rowland will host the session on 30 Years of Impact – Insights to lead the future of Australian palliative care together with panel members PCA Chair, Professor Meera Agar, Professor of Palliative Medicine, University of Technology Sydney, The Hon Nola Marino MP, Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories and Professor David Currow, Deputy Vice Chancellor at University of Wollongong (Health and Sustainable Futures) to be streamed on 1 December 2021 at 4:30pm AEDT. You can put forward a question to the panel via video (upload here) or via email. If you would rather submit a written question, please also include a photograph of yourself. The recording should only be around 30 seconds or less.

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