Mental Health Special Interest Group


The mental health special interest group attends to the policy interests of those working on mental health.

Despite recent boosts to national funding, mental health remains underfunded, poorly coordinated and inadequately resourced.

The complex nature of the mental health system – sitting across health and social services – necessitates innovative solutions which draw on the combined knowledge of the diverse actors working across the system.

A significant aim of the group is therefore to bring together researchers, practitioners, consumers and policy makers in productive dialogue with the aim of developing these solutions.

This Special Interest Group grows out of the discussion at the Sydney Health Policy Network’s first annual conference Mind Over Money: Reforming national health funding and its implications for mental health held in November 2011.


Member Area of Interest
Jennifer Smith-Merry Jen's research interests lie in health policy and services, particularly in the areas of mental health and adverse events.
Sebastian Rosenberg My research interest is health policy, particularly in relation to mental health and accountability
Ashley McAllister Social and economic policy and mental illness; comparative research – Canada and Australia
Mairwen Jones Interested in the origin, nature and treatment of a range of psychiatric disorders
Joy Paton The Political Economy of Mental Health: socioeconomic conditions, risk & individual well-being
Ian Hickie Health policy and services particularly areas of mental health
Christopher Ryan Ethical and legal aspects of mental health policy
Kathy Flitcroft Evidence in health policy, including mental health policy; cancer screening; evidence translation theories
Maree Hackett Mental health in people with chronic illness; Global mental health
Zoe McKeough Physical activity and effects of exercise training in mental health
Alan Rosen Health system impact of mental illness in individuals with chronic illness; access to mental health services
Julia Langton Health system impact of mental illness in individuals with chronic illness; access to mental health services
Tim Chen Mental health stigma; quality use of psychotropic medicines; adherence to psychotropic medicines
Anne Honey Families of young people with mental illness; social determinants of disability
Nicola Hancock Health service research, collaborative and participatory research, instrument development, recovery and psychosocial rehabilitation, occupational therapy
Fiona Robards Improving the mental health outcomes for children, young people and their families.
Catherine Raffaele Sustainable work that nurtures health and productivity; social inclusion, participation and privacy
Sascha Callaghan Decision making capacity, specifically what capacity means in terms of legal personhood, and the cognitive qualifications for the right to live as we choose

Upcoming Event

Title: Taking Over the Asylum: New approaches to autonomy and capacity in mental illness in the era of disability rights.

Speaker: Sascha Callaghan

Date: May 27th 12-1pm

Venue: Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Cumberland Campus, Room F126

Speaker Bio: Sascha is a lawyer and doctoral researcher in mental health law at the Centre for Values, Ethics & the Law in Medicine at the University of Sydney. Her primary research interest is in the criteria for involuntary treatment for mental illness, and has contributed to several legislative reviews, arguing for rights based laws that support the autonomy of people with psycho-social disability.

Talk Abstract: The law of involuntary treatment for mental illness is currently based on presence of illness and risk of harm. Sascha argues that this approach is counterproductive, discriminatory and denies persons with mental illness a basic right to autonomy, which she suggests would be better met by focussing on the capacities of persons with mental illness to make their own decisions and supporting those capacities wherever possible. Sascha further suggests that the “right to autonomy” is essential not just in abstract rights terms, but because autonomy is necessary to human dignity and our sense of self worth. These things are a basic condition for human flourishing and for recovery from mental illness.

Further Information: For further information on the event or the network more generally contact the MH SIG co-coordinator Jen Smith-Merry

Join the Group

To join the group please contact

Dr Jen Smith-Merry

Sebastian Rosenberg