Weekly CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: The Mental Health Olympics - just what we needed!

Photo: Courtesy Delly Carr

When Peter Bol finished a gallant fourth in the 800m final at the Olympics on Wednesday night I had goose bumps.

When the TV coverage crossed to his 70 plus family members watching on from a crowded lounge room in Perth I had more.

And when the 27-year-old Sudanese born Australian said ‘we are all just humans’ in his post-race interview, the power of what’s happened in Tokyo over the last two weeks hit me, and so too the focus on mental health.

From before the Games even started when Liz Cambage pulled out to look after her own mental and physical health, to American superstar gymnast Simone Biles stepping aside mid competition, the Tokyo Olympics held in the middle of a global pandemic, and a year later, have been different to previous Games.

We’ve said a number of times in this blog recently just how much more people have been prepared to talk about their mental health during the pandemic, and to see this narrative on a global stage like the Olympics, reminds us all how far we have come to reduce stigma, but also just how much more work there is to do.

To see athletes talk about their fears, their foils and their struggles goes a long way to reducing the stigma and making mental health more and more part of the general narrative, and as the Washington Post said this week, Tokyo will be remembered for ‘athletes not boasting about their medals or their mettle but crying out for help’

“I feel like society is shifting in a way, and I would actually give credit to athletes — and celebrities, too — anybody who has a platform,” said Jessica Bartley, the director of mental health services for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. “This is going to be helping any 8-year-old gymnast who might be struggling, any up-and-coming track and field athlete to be able to say: ‘Something doesn’t feel right. They got help. They went to somebody. Is that okay?’

From skateboarding and BMX to swimming and sailing, the Australian team has excelled as athletes and ambassadors, and for many of us on the couch, especially those in lockdown, the chance to watch on and feel part of their story has been a welcome distraction from the pandemic. A friendly time zone has helped too.

And while on one hand it has been heartbreaking to see a city host an Olympic Games only for its citizens not be able to attend, the joy that athletes have brought to people all over the world has to outweigh the loneliness of those empty stadiums.

Just like the joy that Indonesian weight lifter Windy Cantinka Aisah showed on Day 1 in this great photo above, winning a bronze medal for her country. Or the Fijian Rugby Sevens team finishing their gold medal match in tears, knowing just what it meant to their homeland.

Two nations hit hard by the pandemic over the last 18 months, and two nations that like us have been provided a short reprieve, thanks to the Olympics Games and the Paralympic Games still to come.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

National Homelessness Week a reminder for us all

This National Homelessness Week we’re reminded that safe, secure, appropriate and affordable housing is the foundation for people to recover and maintain good mental health and wellbeing, and participate in society. Sadly, according to latest estimates over 116,000 Australians are experiencing homelessness - AIHW 2016 Census.

We also know that people with an experience of mental ill-health are also more likely to experience housing insecurity, and vice-versa, but integrated mental health and housing supports can change this trajectory.

At Mental Health Australia we are calling for action from governments to increase availability of housing options, provide tenancy support and early intervention and prevention, to ensure all Australians – including people with experience of mental ill-health – have access to safe and secure housing and all that it supports.

Find out more via our housing position statement here

Mental Health Australia Vacancy - Manager, Lived Experience Programs

The Manager Lived Experience Programs is responsible for:
    facilitating the business of the National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum (NMHCCF), which includes providing secretariat, policy and project support.
    managing the relationship between Mental Health Australia and the NMHCCF, through a trustworthy and trauma-informed approach.
    strengthening policy and advocacy positions and capacity for mental health consumers and carers working with Mental Health Australia.

To be considered for this role you will have formal qualifications in a relevant discipline (eg. health, social science, community services) and / or substantial related experience. You will have a strong commitment to working in partnership with consumers and carers to achieve mental health reform and knowledge of working within a trauma-informed approach, promoting safety, trust, choice, collaboration and empowerment. 
Find out more here.

Applications Close: 20 Aug 2021


On Monday I am meeting with Australians for Mental Health and on Tuesday with Megan Cahill, CEO of the Canberra PHN and later with Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer from the Department of Health.

On Wednesday I am starting the day on a panel hosted by Deloittes discussing workforce development in the context of mental health reform. Later we have our regular meeting with Mark Roddam at the Department of Health in Canberra and then in the afternoon we will be meeting with Michelle Blanchard from the National Mental Health Commission to discuss the development of the National Anti-Stigma Strategy.

On Thursday I am meeting with John Gregg, the new CEO at the Australian Health and Hospitals Association and on Friday the Board of Mental Health Australia is meeting as is the Primary Health Care Reform Steering Committee. 


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.

PHN Cooperative - National Policy and Capacity Building Officer - Mental Health

The National PHN Cooperative is recruiting for a new position of National Policy and Capacity Building Officer | Mental Health. The position will be based at their local PHN and work nationally. Further details are available here. Applications close 5pm Monday 30 August.

Member Profiles

Mental Health Victoria
Mental Health Victoria (MHV) Ltd is the peak body for organisations that work within or intersect with the mental health system in Victoria. Our members include consumer and carer groups, community health and mental health services, hospitals, medical associations and colleges, police and emergency services associations, unions, local governments, and other bodies across the health, housing and justice sectors. Our aim is to ensure that people living with mental illness can access the care they need, when and where they need it - be it in the home, the community, or in the hospital.

Care Connect
Care Connect is a not-for-profit home care services organisation that has been providing aged care services at home, for over 20 years. Their expertise is providing the right advice and guidance for home care, and then finding and managing the right home care services to help people at home with day-to-day activities. Those activities can range from gardening or cleaning out the fridge, to joining an exercise group or seeing the grandkids play sport. They have no vested interest other than people’s wellbeing. They are not connected to a residential aged care provider or any religious organisations. They’re completely independent. They only employ independent Client Advisers with extensive experience in home care who provide genuine, independent home care advice. Care Connect have the largest network of trusted services providers nationally, offering people full peace of mind and the widest range of home care services in Australia.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

Look after your mental health during COVID-19

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can talk to a trained counsellor any time by calling the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Line: 1800 512 348. For a free telephone interpreter, call 131 450. Posters available in 37 languages:



NepaliPolishPortuguesePunjabiRussianSimplified ChineseSerbianSpanish,

SwahiliTamilTraditional ChineseThaiTurkishUrdu and Vietnamese.

Toby from Headspace on Mental Health – Bilingual Videos

International student, Toby from Headspace speaks about taking care of your mental health in these video resources, available in two languages: Cantonese and English.

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

Parliamentary committee calls for a new national strategy on homelessness

Australian governments should work together to establish a ten-year national strategy on homelessness, according to a report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs released this week. In its report, the Committee makes 35 recommendations which propose a renewed approach to preventing and addressing homelessness in Australia.

Read more

Applications to open for new $6 million homelessness fund (WA)

Homelessness Week raising awareness of homelessness in the community with national theme of ‘Everybody needs a home’ Community Services Minister in WA Simone McGurk marked the start of Homelessness Week 2021 with an announcement about the McGowan Government co-funding initiatives to address homelessness in local communities. Under the new $6 million Local Government Partnership Fund for Homelessness, the State Government will provide one-off financial co-contributions to projects that are identified and led by local governments to respond to and prevent homelessness across Western Australia.

Read more

Rise in distress signals the need for continued support, particularly for young people

It is clear from recent data that distress levels in the community are high and continuing to increase due to the ongoing challenges from COVID-19 lockdowns. The recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report into suicide and self-harm shows an increase in ambulance attendances for suicidal and self-harm ideation and increased levels of psychological distress, particularly for younger people. On Monday 2 August, Lifeline recorded the highest daily number of calls (3,345 calls) in the organisation’s history.

Read more




Survey Invitation: Impact of personal suicide stigma on help-seeking intentions and mitigation by suicide literacy and past experiences

Suicide is a worldwide tragedy with approximately 700,000 people losing their lives to suicide each year, and many more friends, families and communities impacted by the loss of their loved one/s. The aim of this research is to assess the link between help-seeking intentions, personal suicide stigma, suicide literacy and past experiences of suicide in order to inform knowledge for future suicide prevention initiatives around help-seeking and stigma reduction for those with suicidality.
Find out more here.

Run to support youth mental health in 1000 Miles to Light

The challenges of the past 18-months inspired former Adventurer of the Year, Hon. Pat Farmer AM, to create 1000 Miles to Light – an ultra-race covering 1000 miles to raise awareness and funds for ReachOut. The race will cross terrain that will test limits of endurance, commitment and determination, showcasing how much can be achieved by every one of us.
Find out more here.


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