Our 30-year history

Having grown from a humble regional training institute into a respected and widely connected national leader in mental health and suicide prevention, Everymind is now commemorating 30 years of delivering community-focused prevention programs, research and education.

The Institute was established in July 1992 as an initiative of the Hunter New England Local Health District, responding to a local review of mental health services. Originally named the Hunter Institute of Mental Health (HIMH) it was headquartered at Newcastle’s historic James Fletcher Hospital site, where it remains today.

Television presenter Trish Goddard attended the official HIMH launch in her capacity as head of the National Community Advisory Group on Mental Health. She became an ambassador and supporter for the fledgling institute.

Professors Trevor Waring and Vaughan Carr, from the University of Newcastle, were the co-founders and initial co-directors. Both were pioneers and mentors in psychiatry who initially foresaw a need to provide postgraduate education and training for mental health professionals.

“Mental health services in the region have experienced a very important boost in educational opportunities with the Institute’s appearance, the like of which has never existed in the Hunter previously,” Professor Carr said at the time.

The training workshops were later expanded to include a counselling skills course for community groups, workplaces, clergy members, police and more. Between 1993 and 1996, additional staff were employed to help host annual conferences and visiting scholars, while the HIMH won its first tender for training outside of the Hunter Region.

Funding received under the first National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy in 1997 then enabled the burgeoning institute to expand its horizons across mental health promotion and suicide prevention, with increased emphasis on policy development, evaluation, research and the implementation of new programs and resources.

Among the Institute’s early flagships were Mindframe, supporting safe communication about suicide, mental ill-health and alcohol and other drugs, and the Response Ability education program offering pre-service training for teachers and early childhood educators. A World Health Organization report in 2014 acknowledged Mindframe’s contribution to suicide prevention.

Trevor Hazell, an expert in population health and health promotion, was appointed Director in 2004 and served until 2012, further enhancing the Institute’s strengths in developing scalable, translational, evidence-based programs and projects.

Dr Jaelea Skehan OAM succeeded Mr Hazell as Director in 2012, some 11 years after joining the Institute as a trainer. A registered psychologist who holds a conjoint appointment with the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, Dr Skehan continues to serve in the role.

Significant programs to arise under Dr Skehan’s leadership include ‘Partners in Depression’ and ‘CHiRP’ – the Child Illness and Resilience Program pilot trial for families and carers of children and young people living with an illness – along with key national resources such as Conversations Matter, Prevention First, MIND Essentials for nurses and midwives, Connections for early childhood educators and Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces.

Today, with a staff of more than 40, Everymind runs seven major mental health and suicide prevention programs, along with numerous project and research studies. Partnerships have been forged with national and state commissions and departments of health, primary health networks, other mental health organisations, and research centres.

Building on the 30-year foundation, future strategic priorities for Everymind are concentrated on policy development, knowledge translation and best-practice communication, along with supporting both families and caregivers and business and community.

SNAPSHOT

1992 – The Hunter Institute of Mental Health commenced operations through the then named Hunter Area Health Service, with a specific focus on local education and training under leadership of Co-Directors Trevor Waring and Vaughan Carr

1997 – Commenced working nationally with funding under the first National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, with a focus on building the capability of diverse sectors to play a role in the prevention of mental ill-health and suicide

1998 – Mindframe and Response Ability programs developed

2004 - Trevor Hazell appointed Director in 2004 and served until 2012

2007 – The Institute broadens its funding base and enhances its reputation for research and fit-for-purpose prevention programs

2012 – Dr Jaelea Skehan AOM appointed as the Institute’s third Director succeeding Trevor Hazell and Co-Directors Trevor Waring and Vaughan Carr

2012 – Conversations Matter suite of resources developed to support safe and effective community discussions about suicide

2016 - Minister for Health, The Hon Sussan Ley MP acknowledged the Institute's 18 year milestone running two Commonwealth funded programs, the Response Ability teacher education program and the Mindframe national media initiative

2017 – Rebranded as Everymind to reflect the Institute’s broader reach, status and purpose, and recognised for the design and delivery of world-leading prevention programs and research – including ground-breaking work with the media, education, workplaces, families and communities

2017 - The Institute marks its 25th anniversary [more]

2018 - Ahead for Business developed to help small business owners take action on their mental health and wellbeing

2018 - Everymind officially launches the Life in Mind knowledge exchange portal providing translated evidence, policy, data and resources in suicide prevention, and host of the National Communications Charter: A unified approach to mental health and suicide prevention (The Charter)

2019 - The Prevention Hub, a joint initiative by the Black Dog Institute and Everymind launches

2020 - Everymind Director, Dr Jaelea Skehan, awarded with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) as part of the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List [more]

2021 – Everymind launches a national trial of the Minds Together program supporting people the mental health and wellbeing of those who care for someone experiencing mental ill-health or suicidal distress

2022 - Children in Mind program launched to build the capability of families, carers, early childhood educators and communities to support children’s social and emotion development and mental health

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