Taking on mental health leadership

ARMIDALE’S Sarah McFarlane-Eagle, founder of Walking Feat, has been selected as one of 11 participants in a new national mental health initiative.

It’s the first intake for the inaugural National Mental Health Leaders Project, which will support the further development of existing consumer and carer mental health leaders and advocates, and find and develop the next generation of leaders. 

It is an initiative of the National Mental Health Commission in collaboration with the Mental Health Council of Australia, and with the support of National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum.

Ms McFarlane-Eagle has been passionate about raising awareness of mental illness since her brother Ben went missing in 2001, during his final mental health crisis. 

She began taking long distance walks in memory of him, to raise awareness of mental health issues and the services and supports available. 

She founded Walking Feat in 2004, is working with Partners in Recovery, aimed at identifying the gaps in the nation’s mental health system and is an ambassador for SANE Australia.

In addition to an individual mentoring and leadership development program this year, Ms McFarlane-Eagle will also have the opportunity to contribute to the National Mental Health Commission’s work. 

“I’m looking forward to developing my leadership skills, and gaining a deeper understanding of the responsibilities associated with leadership in mental health,” she said.

“We need to make sure our system is supporting each person affected by mental illness, and that includes families, mental health staff, colleagues, employers and of course, people living with mental illness. 

“This is even more important in regional areas where mental health support can be challenging to access,” she said.

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