Who are we?
Prevention United is a new national charity with big ambitions.
We're different. Unlike other mental health organisations in Australia, we have an exclusive focus on promoting mental wellbeing and preventing mental health conditions – across the entire spectrum of conditions.
What do we do?
We prevent mental health conditions.
There is now good scientific evidence to suggest that these conditions are not inevitable and they can be prevented using the same approaches we use to prevent conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancers. While we don’t yet know how to prevent every condition among every person, we know enough to make big in-roads while we continue to conduct research to develop more and better ways to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental health conditions.
Where did we begin?
The idea that was to become Prevention United arrived on a warm Summer’s night in a Spotswood pub, in Melbourne’s Western suburbs. Mental health practitioners and friends Dr Steve Carbone, Dr Luke Martin and Dr Lachlan Kent started talking about establishing a mental health charity with a difference - one that helped the community address mental health problems before they had started, and united a fractured sector around the idea of prevention.
Steve had been working in the mental health field for over 30 years, driven by the experiences of family members and friends with mental health issues, and a deep interest in the area. Luke too had worked as a mental health clinician, before moving into the world of mental health promotion and Lachlan was completing a PhD in psychology.
While each came to the idea with unique perspectives, all were equally passionate about making a difference to people’s lives, and in trying to reduce the burden of mental illness. All of them agreed that there was a missing piece of the mental health jigsaw puzzle: prevention.
After seeing first-hand - in their lives and careers - the suffering that mental illness can create, they knew more could be done to help. Why, as a community, were we waiting until people became unwell before we took action? Why couldn’t we try to address the underlying personal and social factors that lead to mental ill health, and prevent conditions from occurring in the first place?
The pub became an impromptu forum for sharing stories and planning the approach. Soon, Prevention United came into existence. It was a fresh new force in the mental health landscape that acknowledged the efforts and successes of organisations like BeyondBlue (where they had all worked) but was committed to taking the conversation forward and finding ways to talk about how to stay well and avert mental ill-health. From the beginning it was committed to forging a new path, but also complementing those efforts already being led by other mental health organisations.
The name was born out of an idea of unity and collaboration - public health experts joining mental health experts; prevention bodies and recovery organisations working hand in hand, side by side. Prevention United’s mission from the beginning was work together with others to fill the gaps, make prevention another chapter in Australian’s mental health story, and avert the kind of suffering that they’d seen among people they had loved and lost in their lives.
What is our goal?
We have our eyes set on a time in the not-too-distant future when mental health conditions are much less common.
By 2050 we aim to prevent 1 million mental health conditions in Australia. At present nearly 1 in 2 Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. We believe this rate is unacceptably high and something must be done, starting now.
Ultimately, we envision a world free of mental health conditions. That might sound like a fanciful statement but, even if preventing every single mental health condition turns out to be impossible, we believe it’s still worth a shot.
Please note: Prevention United is a mental health promotion organisation that specialises in the promotion of mental wellbeing and the prevention of mental health conditions. We do not provide medical, psychological or other treatment for mental health conditions. If you, or someone you know is experiencing a mental health condition and would like treatment or help, please contact your local general practitioner or access the headtohealth website to find a mental health service in your State or Territory. Alternatively you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. If you, or someone you know, need urgent assistance, dial 000 to contact emergency services in your State or Territory.