International mental health expert Professor Harvey Whiteford has been appointed as the inaugural Chairperson of the Queensland Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council.
The appointment was announced by Queensland Mental Health Commissioner, Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck, as part of Queensland Mental Health Week.
Dr Lesley Van Schoubroeck said the theme of this year’s Mental Health Week, ‘We’re all in this together’, touched on an important part of Professor Whiteford’s role.
“Professor Whiteford will advocate for all Queenslanders affected by mental illness or substance misuse,” Dr Van Schoubroeck said.
“He is highly regarded as a leader in his field, both in Australia and internationally, and I’m delighted to appoint someone of such high standing.
“His first task will be to work with me to oversee the selection and appointment of the remaining members to the Council,” she said.
Professor Whiteford said he was very pleased to be appointed to a role that would assist the Commission in its work to improve the lives of the many Queenslanders affected by mental illness or substance misuse, including those in regional, rural and remote areas.
“The Council will provide independent advice to the Queensland Mental Health Commission on issues affecting people living with mental illness or substance misuse, including service access and quality, human rights, social justice and legal matters,” he said.
Professor Whiteford’s latest research findings on the impact of mental illness and substance use disorders on the global burden of disease have important implications for community services and the delivery of appropriate interventions.
“If the impact of mental and substance use disorders is to be reduced, a global effort is required to implement cost-effective prevention and intervention strategies and to develop innovative ways to deliver these to communities,” Professor Whiteford said.
Trained in medicine, psychiatry and health policy in Queensland, and at Stanford University, Professor Whiteford has consulted to the World Bank and the World Health Organisation. He leads the Policy and Epidemiology Group at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research; a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre for Research Excellence in mental health; and chairs the Mental Disorders Expert Group for the Global Burden of Disease Study.