Jaelea Skehan


Hunter Institute of Mental Health



Contact Details

Phone: +61 2 49246925

Fax: +61 2 49246901

Email: Jaelea.Skehan@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au




Jaelea Skehan is an internationally respected leader in the prevention of mental illness and the prevention of suicide. In 2014 Jaelea was announced as one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence, a national honour sponsored by the Australian Financial Review and Westpac highlighting the important contribution women make in creating bold and diverse future for Australia.

Born and raised in Newcastle, Jaelea has worked at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health since 2001, which she now leads as their first female Director. 

Jaelea is passionate about translating evidence into practice and building the capacity of individuals, families, organisations and communities to be involved in mental health and suicide prevention.  She is an advocate for finding better connections between research and practice and for ensuring a national focus on the promotion of mental health and wellbeing, and the prevention of mental ill-health to complement treatment and recovery approaches. 

Jaelea has worked across a range of settings and sectors and has been instrumental in the development of flagship programs for the Institute including national work with the media under Mindframe, workplace mental health programs, suicide prevention programs and many others.

Jaelea leads by example and is committed to change on a local and national level.  She wrote the following for Croakey in 2013:

“We know that the significant and growing burden of mental ill-health cannot be stemmed by treating illness alone.

“Investing in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and the prevention of mental ill-health leads not only to a more efficient use of mental health resources, but has a flow-on effect for a range of services including general health care, drug and alcohol services, education, child and family services and the justice system.

“All of us in mental health, particularly those in leadership roles, have an absolute responsibility to ensure we are implementing not just best-practice but ethical practice.

“[We need] to ensure that we spend funding in the most effective way, utilising skilled and supported staff, working in partnership with other organisations and people with direct experience of mental illness and suicide.”

She is a registered psychologist and holds a conjoint appointment with the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle. Jaelea is also currently completing her PHD in Psychiatry, exploring how evidence in suicide prevention can best be translated and integrated into the practice of sectors outside of health and mental health. 

Jaelea is leading new strategic directions for the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, including the development of key research partnerships and addressing current gaps in national and state priorities for mental health and suicide prevention. She is committed to collective impact in mental health and suicide prevention and ensuring the future sustainability of the Institute and its programs.

Current membership on Advisory Committees: 

Current Research affiliations: