Betty Garrett (Centre), with Dr James Kesby (right), and Betty’s daughter Kathryn (left)

Staff at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QMCHR) had a sad occasion to commemorate in July with the passing of Betty Garrett, one of Queensland’s most determined advocates for mental health research.

Back in the 1980’s, the Sunshine Coast resident initiated and (with other relatives of the mentally ill) started the Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI), a local support group for loved ones with mental illness.

The group sold lamingtons and ran bake sales to buy half-way houses to accommodate adult children with mental disorders, providing them with a safe place to live when families needed respite.

The halfway houses were sold in the early 2000’s and the profits from their sale donated to the Ipswich Hospital Foundation to form a scholarship fund – a portion of which is awarded every few years to a PhD student supervised by QCMHR teams based at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI).

QCMHR Director, Professor John McGrath paid tribute to Betty and the Sunshine Coast ARAFMI group and said her lifetime of passion and dedication to the cause had left a significant legacy to mental health research.

“I was very sad to hear of Betty’s passing, as were all of us at QCMHR who share Betty’s passion to improve the lives of people with mental disorders,” Professor McGrath said.

“We extend our sincerest condolences to her family at this sad time.

“Since 2006, the ARAFMI scholarships have funded 5 PhD students whose projects have made critical discoveries that are helping to unlock the origins of mental disorders and underpinning promising targets for their prevention and treatment.

“Some of these scholars are now running successful research programs and supervising their own PhD students.”

The first scholarship recipient, Dr James Kesby, studied the link between vitamin D and schizophrenia, and he is now a full-time researcher at QBI where his work is focused on the neurochemical control of behaviour, particularly that involved in psychosis, schizophrenia and addiction.

Dr Ilvana Dzafic was the third student to be awarded a scholarship for her work in the neuroimaging and genetics of emotion perception in schizophrenia. Ilvana is now a Research Fellow in Clinical Neuroscience at The University of Melbourne where she continues to study behaviour and cognition in people with psychosis.

You can honour Betty’s legacy and donate to the scholarship fund in her memory.

Visit and use the drop-down menu to select ARAFMI Donation – support in memory of Betty Garrett.

Contact: Kate Gadenne, 0438 727 895


Contacting us

Do you want to know more about QCMHR, but can’t quite get enough information from our website? Please get in touch – we are happy to help!

Find out more

Send us a message