2015 Scholarship Winner

Posted 13 Feb 2016, by

Brendan Brown

The Expert Editor would like to congratulate Heidi-May Mcrenolyds from Sydney University for winning the 2015 A Better Australia Scholarship Program.

She has been awarded $1000 to help her implement change in how Australia deals with mental illness.

Here is her entry.

“It’s all in your head”

As a nursing student with an interest in mental health and policy development, my ideal change in Australia is to eradicate stigma surrounding mental illness and to stop saying “it’s all in your head”. Australia has a world class healthcare system and prides itself on being accepting, understanding and giving people ‘a fair go’; but stigma is a barrier to the provision of mental health care. As a student, I spend time with patients with a variety of health problems. Recently, a patient asked me “can I still be a nurse if I have bipolar?” and I thought “why not? If you can recover from almost any other physical health problem and still be a nurse, why is bipolar different?”. My patient exemplified how societal views can underpin self-limiting attitudes and are a barrier to patient recovery.

I hope to eradicate stigma surrounding mental illness in three ways: provision of holistic nursing care in my own practice; contributing to the evidence base about efficiently integrating physical and mental health care to inform health policy development; and to produce societal change underpinned by policy that advocates for patients and increases public awareness.

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