Meeting for Minds Video Interview Series: Part 1 – 2017

Meeting for Minds has started production of a series of short video interviews featuring people who have experienced mental illness and those doing research into the brain and mental illness.

Each tells of what drove their first interest in research, as a means of developing a mutual community of interest, as a first step on the way towards partnering together in doing research that takes into account the expertise of the lived experience of mental illness.

Susie Hincks, Co-founder of Meeting for Minds, and Prof Sean Hood, Associate Dean of University of Western Australia, Faculty of Health and Medial Sciences

Jerry Burong, long term carer, and Dr Nina McCarthy, Research Fellow, University of Western Australia

Our primary focus remains fixed on the establishment of collaborative research where people with lived experience are engaged with the scientific community to further our understanding of brain disorders and how they relate to mental illness. We believe this practical, inclusive approach to research will ultimately provide discernible benefits, especially for those with hard to treat psychotic and mood disorders.

If you would like to take part in planned further interview series, please contact:  Meredith Drynan  at for more information.

We also need help to raise funds and elicit donations to allow the production of further interviews.  To assist with this, please see this page for DONATIONS information.

2016 Meeting for Minds “SYNERGIES” Forum – Australia

The 2016 international ‘Synergies’ Forum was held on 27 May 2016 from 8:30 – 17:15 at the B Shed in Fremantle, Western Australia.

The Forum served as an open debate around the synergies of lived experience of mental illness and brain research, by inviting people with experience of mental illness into all institutes and establishments involved in human brain research.

Speakers included:

  • Ms Jackie Crowe – Commissioner, of National Mental Health Commission, Australia
  • Prof. Ian Hickie – Co-Director, Health and Policy at Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney, Australia
  • Dr Per Hamid Ghatan – Senior Physician in Brain Injury Rehabilitation, M4M Medical Leader and Advisor in Sweden
  • Mr Simon Denegri – National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) National Director for Patients and the Public in Research and Chair, INVOLVE,UK
  • Dr Ilana Kremer – Director of Mazor (Mazra) Mental Health Center and the Technion Haifa, Israel
  • Kris Harold – CEO of LinkPADD
  • Anne McKenzie AM – Telethon KIDS Institute, Australia
  • Dr Anne-Marie Engel – Director of Research at Lundbeck Foundation, Denmark
  • Dr Michelle Banfield – Research Fellow, National Institute of Mental Health Research at Australian National University, Australia
  • Dr Meni Amran – Meeting for Minds Israeli Spring School
  • Jane Caro (MC)Author, Social Commentator and Advertising Writer, Australia

The 2016 Meeting for Minds Forum took for its central theme the concept of “synergies” and Speakers explored the arguments for (or against) instigating cross-community collaborations involving research scientists and people with lived experience of mental illness.

Speakers were encouraged to contemplate the moral, ethical and scientific pre-requisites involved and arguments for practical implementation strategies of organised collaboration between researchers and people with lived experience of mental illness, within the working environment of brain research institutes, with a view to encouraging development of a co-design environment.

Speakers spoke on issues including the implementation of staff within research institutions who also have life experience of mental illness, in order to connect with and better understand the needs of patients. This was presented by Dr Ilana Kremer of the Mazor Mental Health Center in Israel.

Meeting for Minds also reported on it’s ground-breaking study based on links between the body’s immune system and serious mental illness. Leading Australian psychiatrist Professor Ian Hickie of the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney presented the early findings of the Immune Therapy Research Project, with patients of the Immune Therapy in attendance at the Forum.

The study, which came out of the first Meeting for Minds Forum in 2014, is helping young people with severe psychotic and mood disorders who do not respond to conventional medical treatment. Importantly, it is being driven by a collaboration between clinicians, researchers, young sufferers of mental illness and their parents. The first stage of the Project is being funded by Meeting for Minds.

Other Speakers discussed subjects such as the unique benefits from knowledge of the experience, held by the person with mental illness or their family; management in businesses being responsible for the mental health of their employees; and mental heath research needing to be on the forefront of technology in order to ease collaboration with people experiencing mental illness.



08.30 – Registration

MC Jane Caro, Author, Social Commentator and Advertising Writer

09.10 – Welcome to Country
Barry McGuire

09.25 – Welcome to Meeting for Minds Synergies Forum 2016
Hon. Keith Wilson, Meeting for Minds Director and Former WA Minister for Health

09.40 – The Immune Therapy Project
Professor Ian Hickie, Co-Director, Health and Policy at Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney, Australia

10.15 – Project M4M Sweden
Dr Per Hamid Ghatan, Senior Physician in Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Meeting for Minds Medical Leader and Advisor in Sweden

10.30 – MORNING TEA and Meet the Speakers

11.00 – Hackathon Report
Dr Meni Amran Israel Spring school –

11.15 – The world of research works better with patients, service users and carers as partners
Simon Denegri, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) National Director for Patients and the Public in Research and Chair, INVOLVE, UK

11.45 – Peer support in psychiatric facilities in Israel
Professor Ilana Kramer, Director, Mazor (Mazra) Mental Health Center and the Technion Haifa, Israel

12.15 – LUNCH and Meet the Speakers

13.30 – Innovation for mental fitness in the transport and mining industries
Kristopher Harold, CEO, LinkPADD Australia

14.00 – Insights from patients and their families working with researchers in Denmark
Dr Anne Marie Engel – Director of Research, Lundbeck Foundation, Denmark

14.30 – The WA consumer and community involvement program
Anne McKenzie, Advocate/Manager and Telethon Kids Institute, School of Population Health, University of Western Australia

15.00 – AFTERNOON TEA and Meet the Speakers

15.30 – Evidence based collaboration to advance brain research
Jackie Crowe, Commissioner, National Mental Health Commission, Australia

16.00 – The collaborative activities of the ACT consumer and carer mental health research institute
Dr Michelle Banfield, National Institute of Mental Health Research, ANU, Australia

16.30 – “Call to Arms”
Jackie Crowe & Ian Hickie

17.15 – End


18.00 – Post Forum drinks and mingle for speakers and attendees

19.00 – The launch of —spectrum event and opening of the Eveline Kotai art exhibition by Professor Ted Snell, Director of UWA cultural precinct.

2016 Forum Speakers


Ms Jackie Crowe
Commissioner of National Mental Health Commission

Jackie is dedicated to encouraging greater understanding, compassion and respect for people affected by mental ill health, people with suicidal concerns and their families, friends and carers who journey with them.

She has been involved in mental health and suicide prevention issues in various management, leadership, advocacy, advisory, speaking, research, consultancy and commissioner roles – at local, state, nationally and internationally; and for over twelve years she has worked closely with Governments on mental health/suicide prevention projects and consultancy.

Jackie combines her lived experience, understanding of the grass roots and knowledge of high level strategic policy and planning to challenge common assumptions and shift thinking about mental ill health and suicide.

Jackie recognising that no one person or group has all the knowledge and skills alone which is why she is passionate about what is possible when people from different parts of life work together; understanding that the most powerful intervention is the relationship.


Professor Ian Hickie
Co-Director, Health and Policy at Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney

From 2000 to 2003, Professor Hickie was CEO of beyondblue: the national depression initiative, and from 2003 to 2006 served as its Clinical Advisor. In 2003, Professor Hickie was appointed as the Executive Director of the Brain and Mind Centre (formally the BMRI). He was appointed as Co-Director, Health and Policy of the Brain and Mind Centre in 2015. From 2008 to 2013, he was one of the first round of new NHMRC 2008 Australian Fellows and was appointed to the Federal Health Minister’s National Advisory Council on Mental Health and then, in 2010 to 2011, the Federal Ministers Mental Health Expert Advisory Group. In 2015 he became a fellow of the new Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. From 2012, Professor Hickie was appointed as one of Australia’s first National Mental Health Commissioners and was reappointed to a second term in that role in 2014, to oversee enhanced accountability for mental health reform in Australia.


Dr Per Hamid Ghatan
Senior Physician in Brain Injury Rehabilitation, Meeting for Minds Medical Leader and Advisor in Sweden

Per Hamid Ghatan is a medical doctor with clinical experience as a senior physician in the field of brain injury rehabilitation and occupational health medicine. He is a researcher with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience and is teaching at the Karolinska Institutet.  As a medical advisor he is a leading expert in the field of brain injury prevention.


Mr Simon Denegri
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) National Director for Patients and the Public in Research and Chair, INVOLVE

Simon was appointed the National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR) first ever National Director for Patients and the Public in Research in 2012 and Chair of INVOLVE – the national advisory group for the promotion and support of public involvement in research funded by NIHR – in 2011.

Prior to this Simon was Chief Executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) from 2006 until 2011.  This followed a three-year stint as director of corporate communications at the Royal College of Physicians of London from 2003 to 2006.  Prior to this appointment Simon was assistant chief executive at the Alzheimer’s Society (UK) from 2002 to 2003 and also worked for the Society from 1992 until 1997 becoming its first head of public affairs.  Between 1997 and 2000 Simon worked as Procter & Gamble’s Corporate and Financial PR Manager based at the company’s headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.   On his return to the UK, Simon was appointed Director of Communications at the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

Simon studied politics and legislative studies at the University of Hull, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (MCIPR) and the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM). As a writer and speaker on issues concerning the public and health research, Simon’s particular areas of interest include:  public involvement in research; public attitudes to science; use of online and digital media for public involvement and engagement; health research regulation; the pharma industry; dementia and mental health.

Ilana Kremer

Professor Ilana Kremer
Director of Mazor (Mazra) Mental Health Center and the Technion Haifa

Professor Ilana Kremer is a medical doctor, a Psychiatrist, who graduated Psychiatry in 1988. Since then she has been for 15 years the head of a psychiatric department in a general hospital in the north of Israel, and since 2010 the director of Mazor Mental Health center, a psychiatric hospital of 369 beds, including rich ambulatory services of day care and 3 big clinics, serving 5000 patients in a catchment area of 700,000 inhabitants of Akko and the Galilee. She is a clinical professor in the faculty of medicine, Technion.

The majority of the clinical and academic efforts in Mazor are dedicated to the improvement and research of Schizophrenia. Although the disease has a genetic component, the neurological basis of schizophrenia is still unknown, and thus there is, as yet, no laboratory diagnostic tool that is based on the etiology of the disease.

The research lab in Mazor integrates basic and clinical research, as well as the establishment of interdisciplinary cooperation. Knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms that form the basis of this mental illness are studied in order to identify biological indicators and develop medicinal treatments to improve the quality of life of the patients. One approach to understanding the neurobiological basis of mental illness in general, and schizophrenia in particular, is to search and identify measurable physiological and/or behavioral changes that are associated with basic developmental processes or to the course of the disease. Identifying biological indicators will make it possible to build diagnostic tools based on lab tests, will aid in following the development of the disease, and will make it possible to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. Clinically, much attention is given to the hospitalization experience and to maximize rehabilitation success. In these projects people with lived experience are involved in Mazor, and serve as members of the therapeutic staff.

Kris Harold Business pic

Kristopher Harold
CEO, LinkPADD, Australia

Kris is a graduate of both UWA (Science) and Curtin (Business) and distinguished as an organisational design tragic and a keen proponent of mental fitness in the workplace. Kris has learnt across both corporate and family business that the philosophy of ‘mental fitness first’ ensures managers are equipped with the personal and organisational skills to facilitate a culture of success. Kris could be described as “in the pursuit of excellence” and understands the pinnacle of management to be true connectedness in the workplace. The approach is simple yet effective –‘ if the Company’s people are treated as its greatest asset and the environment promotes mental fitness, then sit back and watch people shine’.


Anne McKenzie

Consumer Advocate/Manager at the Centre for Health Services Research, University of Western Australia

Anne McKenzie has worked as the Consumer Advocate at The University of Western Australia, School of Population Health and the Telethon Kids Institute since 2004. Anne manages the joint Consumer and Community Involvement Program at both organisations. Her role is to support and facilitate active consumer and community involvement in the research and teaching programs at the School, the Institute and collaborating organisations.

Anne is a senior consumer representative for Consumers Health Forum of Australia and former Chair of the Health Consumers Council of WA. She currently serves on key national and state health committees including the National Health and Medical Research Council, NPS, Medicines Australia and the Department of Health.

In January 2015, Anne was appointed to the Order of Australia for 20 years of service in the area of health consumer advocacy.


Dr Michelle Banfield
Research Fellow, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment

Michelle is an academic consumer researcher who has worked in consumer-focused mental health research since 2004. Her PhD explored mental health consumers’ priorities for research on depression and bipolar disorder in Australia and following from this work, her research interests include effective services and policy for mental illness.

In 2015, Michelle commenced an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowship looking at service access and navigation for people with serious mental illness. A major focus of the study is consumer and carer experiences that can shape system reform. Michelle also leads ACACIA: The ACT Consumer & Carer Mental Health Research Unit. ACACIA aims to increase the involvement of ACT mental health consumers and carers in the research process and conduct research relevant to their needs.

As part of her commitment to active consumer participation, Michelle is developing strong connections with consumer organisations and representation. In 2012 Michelle was appointed to the National Mental Health Consumer Reference Group and became a member of the Health Care Consumers’ Association of the ACT (HCCA) Executive Committee. She is now Vice President of HCCA. Through these roles, she hopes to foster strong ties between the consumer and research communities.

Anne-Marie Engel

Dr Anne-Marie Engel
Director of Research at Lundbeck Foundation, Denmark

Anne-Marie Engel is Director of Research at The Lundbeck Foundation since 2008. She is a qualified medical doctor and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Copenhagen. Her research activity was focused on immunological and cellular mechanisms involved in the development of tumours and cellular mechanisms underlying metsatasis.

As the Director of Research she heads all grant activities of the Foundation which accumulate to approx. AUD 100 Million pr. year within the area of biomedicine with a special focus on brain health. She has extensive experience with developing grant strategies, establishing new funding schemes and promoting public-private research partnerships. Furthermore, Anne-Marie Engel is a very active actor in Danish and European foundation work on research policies, research evaluation and discussions on research management.

Anne-Marie Engel is member of the board Oslo University, member of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) Research Forum Steering Group and a member of the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences.


Jane Caro, MC
Author, Social Commentator and Advertising Writer

Jane Caro has a low boredom threshold and so wears many hats; including author, novelist, lecturer, mentor, social commentator, columnist, workshop facilitator, speaker, broadcaster and award winning advertising writer. The common thread running through her career is a delight in words and a talent for using them to connect with other people.

Today, she runs her own communications consultancy and lectures in Advertising Creative at The School of Communication Arts at UWS.

She is a weekly regular on Channel 7 Weekend Sunrise and Mornings on Channel 9. She has appeared frequently on ABC’s Q&A, Sunrise, The Project, The Drum and Playbox. She is also a regular panellist on the ABC’s top-rating show on advertising “The Gruen Transfer.” She is a regular on radio and has filled in as host for RN’s iconic “Life Matters”.

She has a BA in English Literature from Macquarie University. She writes a regular column in Mt Magazine and contributes articles and oped’s regularly to The SMH, The Drum, The Conversation, Mamamia, The Hoopla and New Matilda. She mentors young businesspeople through McCarthy Mentoring. She is on the Boards of Bell Shakespeare and the NSW Public Education Foundation. She is also the mother of two daughters, a wife, a beef producer and a timber grower.

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‘MINDHACK’ Hackathon – Australia, May 2016

Meeting for Minds held Australia’s first ever mental health Hackathon, partnering with Spacecubed, on 20 and 21 May 2016.

During the 24-hour event, a selected group of students drawn from a broad base of disciplines, attempted to ‘MindHack’ inventive tools and methods for initiating interaction between research scientists and people with lived experience of mental illness, with the aim of fostering systematic collaboration across the science/lived experience divide.

The following Mentors from the scientific, IT, clinical and lived experience communities were on hand to bring their expertise:

  • Dr Norman Sartoirus – Former director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Division of Mental Health, and a former president of the World Psychiatric Association
  • Keith Wilson – Former West Australian Minister for Health
  • Kerry Hawkins – Expertise from Experience of Mental Illness
  • Dr Per Hamid Ghatan – Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet
  • Susie Hincks – Expertise from Experience of Mental Illness

Our panel of judges included:

  • Maria Halphen – Founder of Meeting for Minds
  • Dr Nathan Gibson – Chief Psychiatrist of Western Australia
  • Tamryn Barker – Managing Director CORE Resources Innovation Hub
  • Sandra Burns – President of Zonta Club of Perth Inc
  • Frank Cooper – Director of Woodside Petroleum Limited and South 32 Limited, and Chairman of the Insurance Commission of Western Australia

The judges chose three of our 10 formed teams, who went on to present their ideas at the Meeting for Minds Forum on the 27 May. These teams were ‘Let’s Chat’, ‘Feel Reel’ and ‘Evolve Understanding’.

‘Let’s Chat’ developed a user-friendly website, which will later be turned into an application, which encouraged user connectivity and allowed a platform through which people could share their experiences and provide support for others.

‘Feel Reel’ dealt with the extensive research covering mental health, most of which however is unavailable to those suffering. This idea essentially compressed research papers into short 30- second videos that clearly expressed the key points to users and allowed everyone to understand how the research could make a difference in their lives.

‘Evolve Understanding’ tackled the access of research to people affected by mental health. By taking information provided by global institutions, Evolve aimed to provide a more easily accessible platform to connect this information with whose lives it will benefit the most.

Workshop – Australia, April 2016

The Meeting for Minds Workshop was held on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at Notre Dame University, Fremantle.

The Workshop looked to gain input on research priorities of postgraduate researchers in brain sciences, postgraduate trainee psychiatrists &  psychologists, and people with lived experience of mental illness who were interested in forging a co-productive and collaborative approach to research.

The event was co-sponsored by Notre Dame University and the School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience at UWA and facilitated by Anne McKenzie; Manager, Community Involvement Program at Telethon Kids Institute and UWA School of Population Health.

During the Workshop attendees formed two groups, one of consumers and one of research/clinicians, and worked separately on developing a list of priorities for future research.

Speakers at the Workshop included:

  • Prof Jo Badcock – PSYCH
  • Julian Heng – SCIENTIST
  • Susie Hincks – LIVED EXPERIENCE
  • Prof Isaac Lim – PSYCH
  • Gerry Burong – CARER

The outcomes from this Workshop were presented at the May 2016 ‘SYNERGIES’ Forum.

Professor Patrick McGorry Lecture – Australia, February 2015

In February 2015 Meeting for Minds presented a lecture by Professor Patrick McGorry on “Hope and help for young people experiencing early signs of mental illness“.

The event was hosted by Christ Church Grammar School’s Centre for Ethics.

When we see young minds breaking down, what real help or hope is there? Former Australian of the Year and mental health expert Professor Patrick McGorry returned to present the second in a public lecture series on new trends in mental health research and treatments.

Professor McGorry, Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health, has put Australia at the forefront of research innovation in prevention and treatment in youth mental health worldwide. In this lecture, he tackled some of the most difficult issues in youth mental health today such as: Is there a crisis in youth mental health? Are early intervention and prevention programs helping young people transform their lives? What are the latest trends in youth mental health in Australia? How should we talk about youth suicide? What should young people, parents, teachers and others in the community do?

The series of lectures was organised by Meeting for Minds, which strives to improve mental health in the community by building strong partnerships and harnessing the creative thinking of neuroscientists, researchers in mental health, clinicians, people with lived experience of mental illness, their families and carers.

2014 Meeting for Minds Forum – Australia

At the core of the Meeting for Minds concept is the conviction that a significant resource in mental health treatment and research is being ignored: the knowledge and experience of those living with mental illness and the people who care for them.
Our desire is to produce specific recommendations and projects that can attract substantial new investments, partnerships or capacity to the mental health field.

Maria, along with Susie, Keith and Scientific Advisor Professor Ian Hickie believed the most effective way to launch the process would be to bring together some of the key players in mental health.
This would open up a new kind of discussion where their collective knowledge would be shared for translational understanding.

The Meeting for Minds 2014 Forum was to be a structured conversation between invited representatives of the three concerned groups. The Forum was held on the harbourside of the West Australian port city of Fremantle on May 14-15.

Facilated by Dr Norman Swan, five key propositions were put forward:

Proposition 1

The link between mental disorders and brain models relies on fitting neuroscience explanations to the adolescent/youth onset of major disorders.

Proposition 2

That life expectancy of those with mental illness can be increased by 10 years in the next decade.

Proposition 3

New therapies are out there but we haven’t shifted to thinking about them
(hormonal, neuropeptide, cellular and immunotherapies).

Proposition 4

Targeted prevention and early intervention approaches are ready for prime time?

Proposition 5

Machines will do what other therapies have failed to do.

Fuelled by the continuation of the conversation started in 2014, it was decided to make the Meeting for Minds Forum a biennial event.

To view the list of Forum Panelists, click here.

Professor Norman Sartorious Public Lecture – Australia, 2014

In May 2014 Meeting for Minds presented a lecture by Professor Norman Sartorius -President, Association for the Improvement of Mental Health Programmes and former Director of the World Health Organization’s division of Mental Health.

Professor Sartorious discussed the subject”Stigma attached to mental illness is the main obstacle to progress in the field of mental health“.

The event was hosted by the University of Western Australia.