Helen Milroy named finalist in national mental health award

15 Oct 2020 | 3 mins

Helen Milroy

The University of Western Australia’s Professor Helen Milroy is one of seven mental health champions from around the country to be selected as a finalist for the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize.

One of only two Western Australians named among the finalists, Professor Milroy was nominated alongside former WA Health Minister and mental health advocate Keith Wilson.

Australia’s first Indigenous medical graduate, Professor Milroy lectures in psychiatry at UWA’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and is Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Honorary Research Fellow with Telethon Kids Institute.

“I think I have a natural inclination to wanting to find out more to find out what makes people tick and to actually help them get back on track, particularly kids.”

Professor Helen Milroy

Professor Milroy said it was humbling to be chosen as a finalist in such a prestigious award.

“But it’s also exciting to have the opportunity to promote child mental health,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in people and love hearing their stories.

“It’s been a privilege as a doctor and as a child psychiatrist to go on those journeys with so many people in their lives. 

“I think I have a natural inclination to wanting to find out more to find out what makes people tick and to actually help them get back on track, particularly kids.”

A descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region Professor Milroy studied medicine at UWA and worked as a GP and consultant at Princess Margaret Hospital for children for several years before completing specialist training in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Her work and research in the areas of holistic medicine, child mental health, recovery from trauma and grief, application of Indigenous knowledge, and cultural models of care have made a significant difference to the lives of children and young people, particularly those with a trauma background. 

Her efforts in developing and supporting the Aboriginal medical workforce and cultural safety in health and mental health through curriculum development, education and training, implementation and evaluation, has had a lasting impact on Aboriginal health and mental health across Australia.

The AFL’s first Indigenous commissioner, Professor Milroy is a commissioner with the Federal Government’s National Mental Health Commission and served as a commissioner with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Professor Milroy is co-director of Embrace at Telethon Kids Institute – Western Australia’s first research centre devoted to the mental health of children and young people aged up to 25.

The Australian Mental Health Prize was established in 2016 by UNSW through its School of Psychiatry. It recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health, or the prevention/treatment of mental illness. 

This year’s winner will be announced by the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), on November 5.

Media references

Simone Hewett, UWA Media & PR Manager, 08 6488 3229 / 0432 637 716

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