Our history

Having grown from a humble regional training institute into a respected and widely connected national leader in mental health and suicide prevention.

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 Hunter Area Health Service and University of Newcastle, were the co-founders and initial co-directors. Both were pioneers and mentors in psychology and psychiatry who initially foresaw a need to provide postgraduate education and training for mental health professionals. Trevor Waring grew and established the Institute and served as Director until 2004 when he was appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Newcastle.

“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 health concerns 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 project officer. A registered psychologist who holds a conjoint appointment with the University of Newcastle’s College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, Dr Skehan continues to lead the Institute.

Significant programs to arise under Dr Skehan’s leadership include:

  • Development of programs focussed on children, families and caregivers, including Partners in Depression, Minds Together, the Child Illness and Resilience Program, Connections and Children in Mind.
  • Expansion of best-practice communication programs such as the expansion of Mindframe, development of the National Communications Charter and Conversations Matter resources;
  • Development of workplace and business-focussed frameworks and programs including the Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Mining Industry, Every Doctor Every Setting Framework, Long lives and Healthy Workplaces and the Ahead for Business program supporting small business owners.
  • Knowledge translation programs including Life in Mind, development of the Prevention First Framework and the Prevention Hub research collaboration.

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.


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. Professor Trevor Waring served as Director until 2004

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 OAM 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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