The 2022 Australian Mental Health Prize has recognised the work of ReachOut Board Member and Patron Ian Thorpe AM. The Australian Olympian has been awarded the prize for lived experience, which celebrates outstanding mental health leadership by someone with lived experience of mental health.
Thorpey is Board Member and Patron of ReachOut and has been a prominent advocate for mental health awareness, prevention, stigma reduction and help-seeking since first publicly speaking about his own lived experience in 2014. He has drawn on his own experience of anxiety and depression to connect with and reassure others that they are not alone, and to encourage and inspire them to seek support. Thorpey’s work has been especially impactful in reducing stigma and normalising conversations about mental health.
In particular, at ReachOut, Thorpey has been instrumental in the creation of ReachOut’s annual fundraising initiative Laps for Life, leading its publicity since 2019. Laps for Life is a national swimming challenge event designed to support the participants’ mental health and wellbeing, while also raising funds to prevent youth suicide. Since its inception, over 20,000 people across Australia have taken part and the event has raised over $5 million for youth mental health support services.
CEO of ReachOut, Ashley de Silva said “Thorpey is an important part of the ReachOut team and a dedicated Board Member and Patron. His willingness to openly share his lived and living experiences of mental ill health and his strategies for wellness offers hope to young people across Australia and encourages them to seek help. From everyone at ReachOut we wish him a very sincere congratulations on this much-deserved prize.”
Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Attila Brungs said “The important leadership of this year’s extraordinary winners showcase the diverse and critical work being done across Australia during challenging and unprecedented times. Congratulations to each winner for their invaluable contribution to the wellbeing of our nation in their respective fields.”
Vlado Perkovic, Dean of Medicine & Health and Scientia Professor at UNSW, says “Australia leads the way in innovative approaches to mental health and it is important to recognise those that dedicate so much of themselves to improving the mental wellbeing of our communities.”
The Australian Mental Health Prize recognises the important and ground-breaking work that many Australians are doing for mental health. The Prize includes four categories: Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; Lived Experience; Profesional; and Community Hero. Thorpey is one of four incredible winners also including Donna Stanley, Alan Woodward and Gary Thorpe.
For more information about the Australian Mental Health Prize, visit australianmentalhealthprize.org.au