Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation is pleased to announce His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia, as patron.

Growing up in a war-torn country, witnessing the mental struggles of some new migrants settling in Australia, and seeing friends lose their children to suicide has made it clear to His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia, that much more needs to be done to better understand mental illness.

“Growing up there was running away from killings, witnessing people die around you, destruction right in front of you… it was almost part of normal life,” His Excellency says.

“It’s only when you reflect back that you realise that those experiences were unusual, and something quite stressful and depressing.

“We didn’t know about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time, as that term only came later, and we didn’t know the impact those experiences would have on mental health.

“We just kept saying, ‘that’s how life is – toughen up and deal with it’.”

While great progress has since been made to raise awareness of mental health issues and improve support services, the Governor says research has an important role to play in striving for a future free of mental illness.

In a show of support, he has become patron of Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation.

“One of the greatest concerns is that (mental illness) isn’t always visible, and the public is still in some ways quite unaware of its depth and seriousness…we also can’t say precisely what it is and why it happens,” His Excellency says.

“Research has to be the key because its findings will help to breakdown all these mysteries.

“Research will help to improve treatment, will drive change and will directly shape policies in the right direction.”

The Governor also hopes governments, mental health organisations and community groups can work together to create a holistic view of what needs to be done to comprehensively understand and address mental illness.

“I want a society where we have a better understanding of mental health – where we see it like any other problem, like a broken leg, getting wisdom teeth out, the flu, or a cold.

“Unless we have that and a greater awareness, then it’s much more difficult to treat it properly,” he says.