Coogee Professor Wins Top Mental Health Prize

Mental Health
Photo credit: UNSW Medicine & Health/Facebook

Professor Maree Toombs from Coogee has been named one of the winners of the 2023 Australian Mental Health Prize in the ‘Professional’ category. 

Read: Community Gathers in Coogee to Raise Awareness and Fight Melanoma

This prestigious prize recognises outstanding mental health leadership at a national level across clinical, academic, and professional sectors.

As a proud Euahlayi and Kooma woman, Professor Toombs has been instrumental in revolutionizing mental health and suicide prevention for Indigenous communities. 

Her research revealed alarming statistics, including Indigenous adults having a 6.7 times higher prevalence of common mental disorders compared to non-Indigenous adults. This underscored the urgent need for culturally appropriate care models.

Mental Health
Professor Maree Toombs (centre) with other recipients of the Australian Mental Health Prize at UNSW Sydney (Photo credit: Simon Anders/UNSW)

In response, Professor Toombs pioneered collaborative care models with over 94 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This community-driven approach exemplifies her commitment to empowering Indigenous-led solutions. 

She also developed the globally recognised I-ASIST Indigenous social enterprise suicide intervention training program which has trained over 800 Indigenous individuals to date.

Embracing Indigenous perspectives on mental health, Professor Toombs collaborates with traditional healers alongside psychologists to forge new pathways in mental healthcare. She advocates for practical services and solutions that create tangible, life-changing impacts.

Professor Toombs’ tireless efforts to improve mental health outcomes for Indigenous peoples has been transformative. Her visionary leadership compels action and change across Australia. This award recognises her immense contribution, though there is still vital work to be done. Professor Toombs continues leading the way forward with ingenuity, compassion and resolve.

About the Australian Mental Health Prize

The Australian Mental Health Prize was founded in 2016 by UNSW Medicine and Health, home to the nation’s foremost psychiatric research department, the School of Psychiatry.

Read: Discover Gordons Bay, Home to Sydney’s Only Underwater Nature Trail

The winners of the 2023 Australian Mental Health Prize were announced at an award ceremony held at UNSW Sydney on 25 September 2023. This esteemed prize celebrates remarkable advocates who have made groundbreaking impacts in mental healthcare and awareness.

Published 26-September-2023