The Politics of Mental Health

Why isn’t providing adequate mental health services a no brainer?

Half of all Australians will experience mental ill-health in their lifetime. The prevalence of mental illness in young people is on the rise. The World Health Organization confirms that depression will overtake heart disease as the number one cause of disease burden worldwide by 2030. Yet mental health receives only 2% of the global health care budget, and even in countries like Australia, awareness and rhetoric outstrip funding by miles. Providing appropriate mental health services for people who need them should be the #1 priority in health care, so why is it so hard for people with mental illness to get a fair deal?

With unique insight into the workings of government, and lived experience of mental illness, British journalist and political aide Alastair Campbell has become a leading advocate for action on mental health in the UK. He will be joined by a panel of experts and politicians to share ideas on what can be done to improve mental health service provision and the mental health outcomes of all Australians.

Event details


Monday, 22 July 2019
6:00 pm – 7:15 pm

City Recital Hall
Angel Place, Sydney

The City Recital Hall is accessible by wheelchair and assisted listening devices may be used in the venue. Please visit the venue website for more information.


Tuesday 23 July
6:30 pm – 7:45 pm

Melbourne Town Hall
Swanston St, Melbourne

The Main Hall at Melbourne Town Hall is accessible by wheelchair and assisted listening devices are able to be used. Please visit the venue website for more information.


    Alastair Campbell picture

    Alastair Campbell

    Alastair Campbell is a writer, communicator and strategist best known for his role as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy. Still active in politics and campaigns in Britain and overseas, he now splits his time between writing, speaking, charities and consultancy. He has written 14 books in the past ten years including a personal memoir on depression and the pursuit of happiness. Campbell is an ambassador for the Time to Change campaign to raise awareness about mental illness, ambassador for Alcohol Concern, patron of Maytree, the country’s only charity for the suicidal, and of Kidstime, which supports the children of mentally ill parents. He co-founded the all-party campaign, Equality4MentalHealth which secured an extra £600 million for mental health services. In 2008, Alastair featured in an award-winning one-hour documentary, Cracking Up on BBC2 about his own breakdown in 1986. Both the film and his first novel, All In The Mind, won considerable praise from mental health charities and campaign groups, which lead to his appointment as Mind Champion of the Year in 2009.

    Professor Patrick McGorry picture

    Professor Patrick McGorry

    Professor Patrick McGorry is the Executive Director of Orygen, Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, and a Founding Director of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation (headspace). He is a world-leading researcher in the area of early psychosis and youth mental health, and has been directly involved in research and clinical care for homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers.

    His work has played a critical role in the development of safe, effective treatments for and innovative research into the needs of young people with emerging mental disorders, notably psychotic and severe mood disorders. He has also played a major part in the transformational reform of mental health services to better serve the needs of young people with mental ill-health.

    Professor McGorry was a key architect of the headspace model and has been successful in advocating with colleagues for its national expansion. He has successfully advocated for the establishment of a national early psychosis programme based on the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre model. He is frequently asked to advise on early intervention and youth mental health policy both nationally and internationally.