The Wellbeing and Resilience Centre, located within the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), has a bold vision to build South Australia as the State of Wellbeing - a public health approach to building mental health.

South Australia will lead a society-wide implementation of wellbeing initiatives, promoted and managed by SAHMRI Wellbeing and Resilience Centre. The state has the networks, high quality of life, and close-knit communities to make the State of Wellbeing a reality.

The Wellbeing and Resilience Centre is part of SAHMRI's Mind and Brain theme, led by globally renowned psychiatrist Professor Julio Licinio. We work alongside esteemed researchers, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists in the Mind and Brain theme, to contribute to SAHMRI's full spectrum of research and translation to healthcare from depression, suicide and anxiety, all the way to resilience and wellbeing. This focus on building mental health assets and growing human resilience as well as researching and treating mental illness is a global first. 


The SAHMRI Wellbeing and Resilience Centre aims to dramatically improve the community's ability to build mental health assets at scale. 

Measuring the wellbeing of nations has emerged as an important addition to understanding wealth and social progress, transcending the simple economic activity measurement of gross national product.

Systematically building human wellbeing and resilience is the logical next frontier in a modern society. 

The cost of mental illness in Australia is estimated to be $190 billion a year, equivalent to 12% of our gross domestic product (GDP). Currently, 1 in 4 of our young people suffers from mental illness in any given year, and in Australia we lose 9 million working days from it annually. It is the key issue for our population, our economy, and our collective quality of life.

Over 14,000 South Australians were introduced to the science of positive psychology by Adelaide Thinker in Residence Professor Martin Seligman in 2012-2014. This has unleashed a state-wide movement to build wellbeing and resilience in the population.

Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman

The approach is based upon the use of positive psychology in the successful resilience project  [1] in the US Army 2008-15 which reduced catastrophic thinking and drug and alcohol use, in post military deployment.

Our research projects are already being conducted in many and varied cohorts across the life course, including the auto manufacturing workforce affected by GM Holden’s withdrawal from South Australia, disadvantaged young people, and the ageing population living in community and residential care. 

The Centre combines measurement and intervention to build upon existing research, and produce data and new knowledge about the science of positive psychology in the prevention of mental illness at the population level. Many South Australian schools and workplaces have already begun to implement interventions proven to reduce mental and physical illness and improve health and wellbeing, with many companies, organisations, aged care facilities, manufacturing and government departments soon to follow.


Using an evidence-based approach, we intend to establish Wellbeing and Resilience as a reliable, effective measure of positive mental health in the community and social progress.

  • We lead, measure, build, embed and evaluate wellbeing initiatives in citizens across the life course: young people, families, community, elders, and the workplace

  • We instigate life course measurement and intervention projects and research, using positive psychology frameworks. 

  • Conduct and publish research in wellbeing science 

  • Attract global leaders in wellbeing science to South Australia

  • Conduct public lectures and events

The SAHMRI Wellbeing and Resilience Centre incorporates Dr Martin Seligman's PERMA dashboard (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment) PLUS, Physical Activity, Nutrition, Sleep and Optimism, to measure and build wellbeing. The PLUS constructs have been added in response to consultations with global experts in wellbeing measurement, who have indicated that this will provide a more comprehensive evaluation of individual and societal wellbeing.


SAHMRI Wellbeing and Resilience Centre Director Gabrielle Kelly outlines the Centre's role.

Brig General (ret) Rhonda Cornum describes the benefits of acquiring resilient thinking skills.

Professor Martin Seligman outlines the benefits of wellbeing at the level of a whole state.

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