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Our History

The Mental Health Association Queensland (MHAQ) was originally formed in 1961 by residents of Wolston Park Psychiatric Hospital in Wacol and their family and friends, and is a registered charity. 

Since its inception 53 years ago we have become a major provider in the Mental Health sector promoting awareness, understanding and acceptance of mental health issues in the community by assisting people to access relevant and timely information, support and treatment.

The Mental Health Federation of Queensland was inaugurated and a constitution adopted. Twelve associations and ten private members were affiliated. Early activities were focused on fundraising for the wellbeing of patients at Wolston Park Hospital.

The Recovery Group was formed (now GROW).

The Australian Association of Mental Health was formed and Dr Beryl Hinckley (Life Member) was elected the first President.

The Relatives Counselling Group was formed (now ARAFMI).

The first Mental Health Week was held.

The Friendship House was established. Here are a few quotes from the then President, Reverend Tony Bagnall, from his opening speech: 

"The role of Friendship House is to focus on the activity and concerns of the voluntary sector, and provide a home for the voluntary agencies. As the treatment and care of the mentally ill becomes more and more located within the community, so the need increases for comprehensive and accessible services.

It is now demonstrable that mentally ill people need a community for their healing and rehabilitation. No less does the community need the mentally ill, not only to remind us of our own vulnerability, but to keep us civilized and humane.

A society is to be judged by the way it treats its weaker members, and among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged weaker members are the mentally ill, who bear the added burden of the stigma attached to mental illness from which we are a society still to be set free.”

The inauguration of the Rockhampton branch of the Queensland Association for Mental Health (QAMH) was held on 20 October 1990.

The Gold Coast Branch of QAMH was established with a committee including mental health professionals on 9 February 1991.

Two new branches of QAMH were established in Cairns and Bundaberg by Executive Director Judy Magub, making a total of five QAMH branches in Queensland.

The Anxiety Self Help Support Group was launched at the QAMH Gold Coast Branch.

To facilitate its education and training mission, MHAQ established the Australian College of Community Services (ACCS), which is also a registered charity. 

MHAQ and ACCS merged with Drug ARM Australasia on 1 July 2011, bringing together three agencies under the Drug Awareness and Relief Foundation (Australia) – DARFA, to form one specialist group committed to providing quality care and support for people presenting with complex needs.

MHAQ’s Gold Coast premises officially opened on 31 October 2011, with the Mental Health Information Line and facilities to host Mental Health Support Groups located on site.

DARFA was rebranded under the new trading name – Healthy Options Australia (HOA), aligning the three companies Drug ARM, MHAQ and ACCS to continue jointly providing solutions in the areas of alcohol and other drugs, mental health, and education and training.

After merging with Drug ARM, the Mental Health Association QLD's services are now delivered through Drug ARM, as part of its mental health services.