Service and Program Awards

Applications now closed


About the Service and Program Awards

The Service and Program Awards commenced in 1992. The categories are reviewed each year and adjusted to reflect the changing emphasis of the Mental Health Strategies of Australia and New Zealand.

There are currently six categories for Programs and Services.

How to Choose a Category

  • Choose the category which best reflects the primary focus of your entry.
    As health care is a continuum, our categories may overlap. The categories help to limit the variability amongst entries within any one category.
  • Some categories highlight areas of service development which have been selected to raise the profile in these areas. An entry should be placed within one of these categories if appropriate rather than the broader categories.
  • Contact the TheMHS office if unsure of the correct category –

Click on the relevant category below for category definition.

Therapeutic and Clinical Services

This category should include those interventions designed to have a treatment/healing effect related to the symptoms of mental illness.

  • May provide assessment, diagnosis or treatment.
  • May be at any stage of care.
  • May be individual, relationship, group or family therapy.
  • May be a clinical treatment for the management of symptoms, such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Other examples include treatments to reduce distress, manage depression or grief, sexual therapy, early intervention orbehavioural disturbance in children.

Psychosocial and/or Support

This category is for those services or programs which support a person to move towards one or more of his/her stated life goals – looking beyond the diagnosis of a mental illness to autonomy on a wider “stage”.

Mental Health Promotion or Mental Illness Prevention

TheMHS defines Health Promotion according to the guidelines set out by WHO

Health promotion enables people to increase control over their own health. It covers a wide range of social and environmental interventions that are designed to benefit and protect individual people’s health and quality of life by addressing and preventing the root causes of ill health, not just focusing on treatment and cure.

Recommended reading:

This Category is exempt from the minimum time of operation rule, stating that the “entry must have been in operation prior to 1 November 2018”.

For the purposes of responding to the marking criteria, the consumer of the service is the target group of the health promotion but, where possible and relevant, the entry should demonstrate involvement of mental health consumers in the development and management of the service/program e.g. a reference group or committee membership.

Education, Training, or Workforce Development

Judges will be looking for effective transfer of knowledge into practice e.g. use of mentoring.

Lived Experience Leadership

This category is for services or programs where significant leadership is provided by persons who have personally experienced a mental illness/unhealth/illhealth/unwellness.

Different terms for these roles may be used such as “mental health consumer”, “consumer advocate”, or “peer worker”. The term “mental health consumers” refers to people who are currently using, or have previously used, a mental health service and includes people who have accessed general health services for a mental health problem. For the purposes of this statement, this term includes those with emerging or established mental illness for which they have not yet sought treatment, or for whom treatment has not yet been provided. (For more information see The National Standards for Mental Health Services 2010).

The term “Peer Worker” refers to a person who is employed in a role that requires them to identify as being, or having been a mental health consumer. Peer work requires that lived experience of mental illness is an essential criterion of job descriptions, although job titles and related tasks vary. (From webpage for the Peer Worker Conference 2015 – “dialog: conversations with peer workers”).

For more information see The National Standards for Mental Health Services 2010 and the Health Workforce Australia [2014]:
Mental Health Peer Workforce Study.


(Includes physical health/primary care, profit and NFP, workplace mental health and wellbeing).

It is not possible to anticipate the wealth and variation of entries received and there are always entries which do not fit the defined categories each year. If your program or service does not fit the other categories you should enter in this category.

Physical health and primary care entries will show how aspects of physical health relate to a person’s recovery and wellbeing.

Rules and Guidelines

Rules and Eligibility

  • Minimum time of operation rule: entry must have been in operation for a minimum of 24 months before the closing date that is prior to 8th June 2019 (entries for Mental Health Promotion or Mental Illness Prevention Program or Project are exempt).
  • Entries can be submitted in one category only.
  • Different parts of a larger organisation may enter different categories.
  • Previous winning entries can reapply after one year has elapsed (i.e. if awarded in 2020, cannot reapply until 2022) on the condition that there is evidence of significant development or change documented in the entry.

Entry Guidelines

Entries must include the following:


  • A Brief description of the service/program/person entered for the award (max. 150 words).
    This should describe the essence of your entry as to an audience or journalist. This will be used in preparing the book of
    Award winners and finalists should the entry be successful.
  • Background description of organisation (max. 150 words).
    This will include the area served, demographic details, budget, funding sources, staff numbers, number of active clients,


  • Cover Page (click to download; 1 x A4 page).
  • Additional Information about Entry (1 x A4 page).
    Please expand upon the brief description given in Part A.
  • Address the following Criteria (max. 10 X A4 pages).
  • Judges allocate marks to each criterion.
1. Evidence of a significant contribution to the field of mental health on a local, state or national level.
2. Evidence of innovation and/or recognised best practice.
3. Evidence of participation of mental health consumers in the planning, implementation and evaluation of mental health service delivery. Evidence of prioritising increased level of engagement and influence of consumers and where higher level  participation such as authentic co-design is highly favoured.
There may be exceptions to the involvement of mental health consumers. Some entries may reasonably explain any particular circumstances where the involvement of mental health consumers is different or limited.
4. Evidence of Partnerships and Linkages with all key stakeholders (collaboration for continuity between organisations).
5. Verification and evaluation of the program’s effectiveness e.g. quality improvement activity, data collection and its use including graphs and tables, achievement of performance indicators, e.g. attendance figures, outcome measures, number of document downloads, page views, click through rates.
  • Judges reserve the right to refuse an entry if they feel that it does not meet the selection criteria as listed under “Entry Guidelines” > “Part B”.
  • Judges reserve the right to withdraw a TheMHS Award at any time, including after the Award is granted, if they find that the entrant does not comply with the entry conditions.

For any questions or concerns, including guidance about the most appropriate category, please email