Service and Program Awards

About the Service and Program Awards

TheMHS Awards program is a peer review process and acknowledges service excellence. Winners are announced at the Awards Ceremony held during the TheMHS Annual Conference.

How to Choose a Category

As health care is a continuum, our categories may overlap. The categories are useful to help to limit the variability amongst entries being assessed within any one category. Therefore choose the category which best reflects the primary focus of your entry.

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.

Please contact the TheMHS office if unsure of the correct category –

Please click on relevant category for category definition.

Therapeutic and Clinical Services

This category is designed to 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 or behavioural 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 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 wellbeing)

If your program or service does not fit the other categories you should enter this category. 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.

Physical health and Primary Care entries will have a focus on aspects of physical health relating to a person’s recovery and wellbeing.

Rules and Guidelines

Rules and Eligibility

  • Entry must have been in operation prior to 1 November 2018 (entries for Mental Health Promotion or Mental Illness Prevention Program or Project are exempt).
  • Entries can only 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 2019, cannot reapply until 2021) on the condition that there is documented evidence of significant development or change.

Judges have the right not to accept an entry which in their opinion does not comply with the requirements of TheMHS Awards program. The judges’ decision will be final. TheMHS Awards Committee reserves the right to withdraw a TheMHS Award if it later finds the entrant did not comply with the entry conditions.

Entry Guidelines

Entries must include the following:

Part A
  • Demographic details.
  • A brief description of the service/program/person entered for award (max. 150 words)
    This should best describe the essence of your entry 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 can include area served, budget, funding sources, staff numbers, number of active clients, etc.
Part B (submitted as a single PDF file)
  • Cover Page (click to download; 1 x A4 page)
  • Additional Information about Entry (1 x A4 page)
    Intended to expand upon the brief description given in Part A.
  • Address of the following Criteria (max. 10 X A4 pages)
    Judges allocate marks to each criterion.
    – Evidence of a significant contribution to the field of mental health on a local, state or national level.
    – Evidence of innovation and/or recognised best practice.
    – Evidence of participation of mental health consumers in the planning, implementation and evaluation of mental health service delivery. There may be exceptions to the involvement of mental health consumers. Please explain any particular circumstances where the involvement of mental health consumers is different or limited.
    – Evidence of partnerships and linkages (collaboration for continuity between organisations).
    – Verification of effectiveness (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).
  • Conclusion (1/2 x A4 page)
  • Referees (1/2 x A4 page)
    Nominate two referees.
  • Appendix of Support Material (max. 8 x A4 pages)
  • 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, please email

Submission Deadline

Wednesday 5th August, 2020

Please note that this deadline has been amended to reflect the postponement of TheMHS Conference 2020 due to COVID-19.