Kim Ryan has recently won the inaugural Australian Mental Health Prize to reward her dedication and years of hard work, improving mental health around the country.
The New South Wales University of Psychiatry developed these new awards and nominated seven finalists from across the nation to reward them for their substantial contribution in the mental health sector, through advocacy, research and services, prevention and treatment or promotion. On the board for these awards included Professor Patrick McGorry, chairwoman Ita Buttrose, cricketer Adam Gilchrist, Dame Marie Bashir, and artist Ben Quilty.
Kim has been the CEO of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses since 2004. She started off as the first and only staff member. Thanks to her diligence and hard work the office now has 10 staff members in the Deakin Health District.
Kim’s work is not only focused on improving education within the mental health field for nurses, but also on supporting their efforts and work while assisting and caring for people with the most vulnerable mental health illnesses and physical illnesses.
Considering mental health is key for treating any patients, Kim said, “I think it’s crucial that all nurses and midwives, not just the mental health nurses, embrace their role in mental health – we’ve got about 374,000 nurses and midwives in Australia, and my goal is to make sure that all of those people are more aware of mental health.”
All medical professionals need to be aware of how a patient feels. Once a patient is asked about their mental health, it’s easier to acknowledge it and care for them.
Kim said: “A lot of people don’t realise that about one third of people who have a heart attack have higher risks of developing a serious mental illness in the following year. Higher mental illness risks can remain for up to five years, but it’s still very rare for a heart attack patient to be asked how they are going, and if not addressed, it may be detrimental to their health.
Kim was presented the award at the University of New South Wales by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in early December and is “overwhelmed” by the win. She will use this award to challenge the misconception that patients’ mental and physical conditions should be treated separately and hopes that the prize increases the much-needed attention on mental health.
If you too would like to walk in Kim’s footstep, check out our Mental Health Registered Nurse jobs.