Our Vision

Our research provides the knowledge and tools to ensure people have the supports they need to be mentally healthy and live well.

Our Mission/Purpose

The mission of the Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) is to lead outstanding mental health research that has meaningful influence on policy, practice, society and individuals. We bring a public health perspective that is responsive to community needs, and values prevention and recovery.

Our Values and Principles

We are authentic, inclusive, collaborative, innovative, and outcomes-driven. We conduct our research with integrity, openness, curiosity and rigour.

Our Goals

  • Conduct outstanding, accessible and innovative research that addresses issues important to society
  • Lead multidisciplinary research that promotes quality of life, prevention, evidence-based treatment and recovery
  • Actively engage with diverse stakeholders and be responsive to their needs, with a core focus on lived experience perspectives
  • Collaborate with communities to translate research findings into better outcomes for policy, practice, society and individuals
  • Contribute our expertise to conversations on mental health, suicide prevention and public health within the University, locally, nationally and internationally
  • Provide a supportive workplace that encourages collaboration and honours diversity
  • Build capacity, growth and leadership in mental health research


Our history

In 1975, Alexander Scott Henderson inaugurated the Social Psychiatry Research Unit (SPRU), an elite NHMRC research unit embedded within ANU. The Unit became a WHO Collaborating Centre in Mental Disorders. In 1995 the Unit was renamed the Centre for Mental Health Research, and has continued to thrive since then, primarily by attracting external research funding.

The Centre has led important developments in mental health across several research foci, including digital mental health interventions, stigma and mental health literacy, prevention of mental ill health, lived experience research, and dementia and late-life mental health.

Previous heads of the Centre have included Prof Tony Jorm, Prof Helen Christensen, Prof Kathy Griffiths and Prof Luis Salvador-Carulla. The Centre is located in Building 63, which was originally the Canberra Community Hospital complex (1928). Academics at CMHR continue to work on population-based mental health research that is relevant to policy and practice.

SPRU original building
Image: Canberra Community Hospital complex, built 1928,  home to CMHR.