Randwick researchers are colouring their hair to raise funds for mental health

L-R: Professor Peter Schofield, CEO of NeuRA. Kirsten O’Doherty, NeuRA Governing Council and Ian Harris, NeuRA Foundation Board. Image via AbbVie Australia Facebook. 

Written by Professor Peter Schofield AO, CEO of Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). 

October marks Mental Health Month, a milestone event for Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and for all the Australians involved in the Colour Your Hair for Mental Health campaign. If you’ve spotted a bright hairdo in the street, you may well have passed one of the 2,800 people who have committed to colouring their hair to raise funds for mental health research. Together they are close to reaching $65,000.

I’m incredibly grateful for the effort our supporters have put in, and rather impressed by the creative direction of some of these hairstyles! Mental illness affects everyone differently and, despite being so widespread, is still stigmatised. Through Colour Your Hair for Mental Health we are highlighting – quite literally – that mental health is part of who we are, as humans, and that research has the potential to improve it.

With nearly fifty per cent of Australians experiencing a mental health illness in their lifetime, I encourage as many people as possible to get involved in Colour Your Hair and make mental illness more visible and less prevalent.

Research is a slow process – there normally isn’t a single moment of discovery. Rather research consists of incremental improvements that expand our knowledge, and eventually leads to better treatments for people in need. In times past, people with mental illness were put into asylums because we didn’t know how to treat their illness. Thankfully, research leading to better diagnosis and treatment has allowed us to move beyond those times. As the community understands more about these conditions and how to manage them, we are better able to provide better support.

NeuRA has made significant progress researching some of the least understood types of mental illness, such as schizophrenia. We are also investigating more common mental illnesses, such as depression. These are more prevalent and are a significant challenge for many people and their families.

I too have dyed my hair – bright green (much to the pleasure of the NeuRA Board, who through their donations were able to choose the colour!). To find out more about how to participate or support our fundraisers, visit: colouryourhair.com.au