8 minute read

The inaugural recipient of Mind’s Stratford Scholarship will explore alternative peer responses to suicide and how these can be practiced through peer community building and knowledge sharing.

Mush McLoughlan (they/them) was selected from over 70 applicants for the scholarship, which Mind Australia developed to honour Anthony Stratford’s immense contribution to the international lived experience movement and to continue his legacy. Much of Anthony’s journey from personal recovery to advocating for system change happened at Mind Australia. Anthony passed away in March 2023.

Each year the $10,000 scholarship will support an emerging Peer leader in Australia to complete a 12-month project that supports the mental health and wellbeing of people in their own and the broader community. 

"I’m really excited for this opportunity,” Mush said. “Suicide has had a huge presence in my life, and for many friends, but there’s so little support that feels truly safe, or which talks about sociopolitical issues that cause us to feel suicidal. This is especially true in LGBTQIA+ communities I am part of and deeply committed to working with.” 

Mush is a psych survivor who has had a long history of engagement with a variety of mental health services as a youth and adult.

“I no longer access the mental health system,” Mush said. “Instead, I use alternatives to the mental health system. My experiences with the system, particularly crisis and suicide preventions services, have highlighted the harm coercive and pathologising approaches have for many people. It has shown me the need for radically different approaches and sparked my passion for this work."        

Mush has co-developed and co-facilitates Alt2su-Naarm, an independent peer support group to talk about suicide in ways that aren't welcome or safe elsewhere.

Mush’s project will explore a variety of non-pathologising, non-coercive peer responses to suicide…
- Katie Larsen, Executive Director Lived Experience, Mind Australia

Contributing to innovation and transformational change in the mental health sector was a key selection criteria for the scholarship’s selection panel – Puneet Sansanwal, Consumer Academic at the Centre for Mental Health Nursing; Associate Professor Melissa Petrakis from the School of Social Work, Monash University; and Isabelle McGovern, LGBTIQA+ Strategy and Service Development Manager at Mind Australia. 

Mind Executive Director Lived Experience Katie Larsen announced Mush as the successful candidate at Mind’s inaugural Stratford Lecture at The Wheeler Centre, which was livestreamed nationally. Mush was presented their scholarship by Mind CEO Gill Callister.

Katie Larsen said the winning project reconceptualises responses to suicide.

“Drawing from the psych survivor movement and peer approaches, Mush’s project will explore a variety of non-pathologising, non-coercive peer responses to suicide and consider how we can practice support in a sustainable way.”

Katie Larsen said Mush’s project will engage leaders across diverse communities locally and internationally and build training in alternative suicide models. 

“The selection panel was also impressed by the peer supervision, mentoring and leadership components of this application.”

Presenting the scholarship, Mind CEO Gill Callister said The Stratford Scholarship will give energy to new and important ideas and developments and support a platform for the next wave of leaders to inform the discussion and direction.

“At Mind, we wholeheartedly value and champion lived and living experience in all aspects of what we do,” she said. “It is essential to ensure human rights and justice-informed approaches are central to how we work. We recognise the insight, resilience, and unique knowledge that individuals with lived experience bring.” 

The Stratford Lecture featuring Ellie Hodges was recorded on ZOOM and can be viewed here on the Mind website.

If you would like more information, please contact us. 1300 286 463, [email protected]  

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 
If you would like more information, please contact us.

1300 286 463 
[email protected]