In a move to help build Victoria’s new mental health and wellbeing system, the Victorian Government has appointed its first Executive Director of Lived Experience.
This appointment addresses a key recommendation from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System to employ people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress in leadership positions in the Department of Health.
Mary O’Hagan, who will be taking on the leadership role, experienced psychological distress as a young woman and felt trapped in services that increased her distress and did not provide support.
“I see so much hope for mental health reform here in Victoria,” Ms O’Hagan said in a statement.
“It won’t be easy, but there’s never been a more important time for people with lived experience – consumers, carers, families and supporters – to take on leadership roles to bring real changes to the new system and new services.”
“There’s never been a more important time for people with lived experience… to take on leadership roles to bring real changes to the new system and new services.” – Mary O’Hagan, Executive Director of Lived Experience
In her role, she will work to ensure that mental health and alcohol and other drug services respond to the needs of consumers and their carers.
She will do this by engaging their views and expertise in the development of policies and programs.
Ms O’Hagan was the former Mental Health Commissioner of New Zealand, where she advocated as a strong voice for change.
Born in New Zealand, Ms O’Hagan has dedicated her passion and expertise to the lived experience movement for more than 35 years.
Minister for Mental Health James Merlino is “thrilled” to have Ms O’Hagan on board.
“Mary O’Hagan has worked tirelessly for decades to change the way services respond to people living with mental illness or psychological distress,” he said in a statement.