Written by Marita Linkson
Australian National University (ANU) researcher Dr Michelle Banfield was awarded the inaugural Consumer Engagement Award at the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) annual Research Excellence Awards dinner last night in Canberra.
NHMRC CEO, Professor Anne Kelso AO, said the Consumer Engagement Award recognises “long-term contribution and commitment to representing consumer and community needs in health and medical research”.
Dr Banfield has been undertaking mental health research for fourteen years, and currently leads the Lived Experience Research Unit at the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research, where the research has a strong focus on involving people who have experienced mental illness.
“People who have experienced or cared for someone with mental illness help our team to better understand the issues and bridge the gap between consumers and health service providers”, Dr Banfield said.
“By conducting research as a consumer researcher, I help to break down the stigma of living with a mental illness.”
“I’m very excited that the NHMRC has created an award for consumer engagement, and am delighted to have received it.”
Dr Banfield and her team partnered with ACT Health to pilot the implementation of peer workers within the ACT public mental health services which led to the introduction of a new role within ACT Health, the “Peer Recovery Worker”.
Dr Banfield has recently been appointed as Chair of the Patient Advisory Committee for the “Our Health in Our Hands” project, a ten million dollar ANU Grand Challenge focused on personalised medicine.