Our Impact | Heal For Life

Our Impact

To solve Australia's mental health crisis,
we must address trauma

90% of public mental health service consumers have experienced one or more incidents of trauma.

About the mental health crisis in Australia

Trauma and severe stress are known to trigger, exacerbate, and in some cases cause other mental illnesses which can have devastating impacts on a person’s relationships, employment and physical health. It causes changes to the brain which affects how we think, process emotions and behave.

  • 4 million Australians are affected by mental ill-health
  • Two-thirds receive no care whatsoever
  • Every 8 minutes someone will attempt suicide

Trauma can occur anytime a person experiences more emotion than they are able to handle during events or experiences perceived as life-threatening, creating an intense experience of fear, horror or powerlessness.

Trauma is the most avoided, ignored, denied, misunderstood and untreated cause of human suffering

Dr Peter Levine: Phd. Medical Biophysics, Psychology. Author: Waking the Tiger

Many Australians have experienced trauma

  • One in three women and one in six men will be sexually abused before the age of 16 (Fergusson and Mullen, 1999) 
  • 79.9% of people diagnosed with depression have suffered some form of trauma. (Moskvina, Farmer, Swainson, et al. 2007)
  • Child sexual abuse has been found to be a key factor in the cause and continuation of youth homelessness (Van Loon and Kralik, 2005).
  • Up to 85% of  sufferers of eating disorders have been sexually abused (Everett and Gallop 2001)
  • 61% of adults have experienced at least one “Adverse Childhood Experience” a term used to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur to people in childhood.
  • 80% of alcoholics at treatment centres have suffered child abuse. (Odyssey House, 1998)
  • 82%  to 86% of people with bipolar disorder have reported  child sexual abuse (Zanarini, Young, Frankenburg, et al., 2002)
  •  91% of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)   patients report childhood abuse. (Zanarini, 1997)
  • 92% of heroin addicts and 94% of amphetamine users have suffered trauma (NARDC, 2004)
  • 68.8% of psychiatric in-patients have suffered from child sexual or physical abuse (Read, van Os, Morrison, and Ross, 2005)

Our Impact

Over 20 years, 8574 adults and children
have attended our programs across Australia, the UK and the Philippines

96% of participants report the program was ”life-changing” or “very positive”

Independently evaluated to improve mental health, relationship and employment outcomes

Our program has been independently evaluated to achieve the following results: 

6 months after a 5-day healing week

  • Highly statistically significant improvements in guest anxiety and depression scores
  • Improved scores on every quality of life dimension
  • 63% of people with a severe mental health disorder (K10) are no longer in the severe risk category
  • Addiction problems reduced from 29% to 16%.

4 years after a 5-day healing week

  • Highly statistically significant improvements in depression and anxiety scores
  • 88% of guests reported that the healing week had a positive effect on their lives
  • Rate of employment increased from 37% to 48% 
  • People on government benefits decreased from 37% to 22%

Volunteering helps deepen the healing outcome

Since 1999, Heal For Life has trained over 500 Peer Support Volunteers. The Heal For Life program effectiveness rests in our peer support model. Here, survivors who are successfully healing from childhood trauma provide support to others starting out on their journey. 

The University of Newcastle has written an article on the experiences of our Peer Support Volunteer Model.

Pathways to employment

The Heal For Life Peer Support Program provides a pathway to employment for survivors in the mental health sector where they can use their their lived experience of trauma and training to support other survivors in a professional capacity.

We are currently undertaking research to determine the impact of the program and find out how many peer support volunteers have since gone on to careers in mental health.


Change someone's life. Sponsor a survivor today.

We can work with you or your organisation to sponsor placements for those who need it most and ensure your money makes a difference to the survivor groups you care about.

Free Chapter Download

Heal For Life – Chapter 2:
Defining Trauma & Self Healing

Free Download of Chapter 2