CQ academic lands Yale posting
PIONEERING mental health researcher, Dr Louise Byrne has been awarded the prestigious Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship to continue her research at Yale University in the United States next year.
The CQUniversity academic also takes up a three-year fellowship with RMIT University in July, to build on her current research.
The Fulbright is the United States' flagship foreign exchange scholarship program and Dr Byrne said it would comprise the third phase of her research into the lived-experience mental health workforce.
"Those with a lived-experience are a living example of hope and have the ability to empathise," she said yesterday.
"There is an emerging evidence base telling us that things are looking very bright with lived-experience in the picture.
"Senior managers talk about people recovering quicker and this is also reflected in the wider literature. One early intervention program for people leaving hospital and aiming to avoid readmission showed a 100% success rate."
Dr Byrne says the mental health sector needs reform.
"Mental health has been in trouble for a long time, but with evidence and anecdotal support growing, governments, in some areas at least, are putting more financial and policy backing behind lived-experience roles," she said.
"In the United States, resources have been developed for organisations with lived-experience employees to find out what's helping to make it a more effective employment situation.
"When I return to Australia, the next phase will be to use all of that information, plus Australian resources, to develop a tool kit that any organisation can use to develop and better support it's lived-experience workforce.
"The bigger picture is to apply what we're learning to the mainstream workforce and develop resources any organisation can use to support employees with a mental health challenge."
Dr Byrne's own lived-experience has given her the depth of understanding in a field few are more equipped to understand.
She is likely the most qualified lived-experience practitioner in the world.
A research doctorate and Fulbright Scholarship to one of the world's most prestigious universities are a far cry from the teenage years spent in and out of hospitals, the streets, the abuse and the drug-addiction that took her to hell and back.
She is living embodiment that recovery from severe mental illness is very real.
"I want to be part of the solution," she said.
"I'm nervous but I'm excited about what I can do with this.
"It's a challenge and it's pushing me out of my comfort zone, but all the best things happen out there."