Award to UoN Professor

Professor Brenda Happell, University of Newcastle, wins top Australasian award in mental health.

Professor Brenda Happell has won The MHS Exceptional Contribution Award at the 2019 Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand for her exceptional contribution to mental health.

Professor Happell, of the University of Newcastle, received the accolade in recognition for being “an inspiring and innovative mentor, contributing with excellence to mental health nurse education and consumer participation, research and practice at a national and international level.”

Professor Brenda Happell presented with her award by The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Federal Minister for Health.

The award was announced at the annual The Mental Health Services Conference held in Brisbane, Queensland and presented to Professor Happell by The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Federal Minister for Health.

I am absolutely honoured to receive such a prestigious award,” Professor Happell said.

This award is not just a personal accolade, but one that recognises the importance of mental health nursing and consumer participation, which I have advocated for and researched with passion for many years.”

A registered nurse with specialist qualifications in mental health nursing, Professor Happell has spent nearly three decades in leadership, teaching and researching roles in higher education.

Throughout her career, she has been a passionate advocate for mental health nursing, consumer participation – the active involvement of consumers in decisions about health services – and improving physical health for people experiencing mental illness. In 2000, she led the implementation of the first known mental health consumer academic position worldwide.

Professor Happell is a Fellow and Board Director at the Australian College of Mental Health Nursing, and former Editor of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.

Last year, she was also the proud recipient of the inaugural Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) lifetime ally award.

Now researching at the University of Newcastle, Professor Happell is the Chief Investigator for a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant for her research Improving the cardiometabolic health of people with psychosis: The Physical Health Nurse Consultant service, a nurse-led initiative.


The Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand are presented every year by The Mental Health Services Learning Network to recognise and encourage best practice, excellence and innovation in mental health service delivery. The awards have been presented annually since 1992.

The Mental Health Services Learning Network promotes positive attitudes about mental health and mental illness, and challenges the boundaries of mental health care.