Professor Michael Hazelton

Research Program:
Research Topics:

What are your research interests?

My research interests involve finding ways of more effectively helping people who live with mental illness to recover their lives. This includes:

  • Finding better ways of supporting people recovering from mental illness in the community;
  • Improving the ways in which health professionals communicate with each other and people living with mental illness;
  • Enhancing the capacity of nurses working in all areas of health care to recognise the main symptoms of mental illness and to offer effective help;
  • Developing ways of helping health professionals to better manage their own wellbeing while offering help to people experiencing emotional distress

Why did you get into research?

My passion for working in the the mental health field goes back at least three decades to when I was working as a young registered nurse in a busy accident and emergency department in Sydney. In that position I quickly realised that many of the people presenting to the A&E were experiencing mental health problems and I had little idea of how to help them. The decision to train as a mental health nurse became a quest to do all I can to improve the care and support given to people living with mental illness. That quest continues today. 

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

The vision that sits behind my research is for a health system and a community in which people living with mental illness can access effective treatment and live fulfilling lives free of stigma and discrimination.


Professor Mike Hazelton is a registered nurse, holds a PhD in sociology and social science from Macquarie University, and is Professor of Mental Health Nursing at the University of Newcastle. He has previously held senior academic positions in nursing at the University of Tasmania and Curtin University in Western Australia. He is Honorary Director of the Halla/Newcastle Centre for Problem Based Learning, Cheju Halla University, Republic of Korea and was Visiting Professor in the School of Healthcare, University of Leeds in 2010. 

Professor Hazelton’s clinical work has included delivery of  psychological interventions such as dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) for borderline personality disorder and group-based cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for depression to people referred by general practitioners. As an accredited Mental Health First Aid Master Trainer he teaches Mental Health First Aid to health professional students, university staff and community members. 

Professor Hazelton’s research interests reflect his clinical interests. He has published over 75 articles, books, book chapters and abstracts and in recent years his published research has focused on the impact of patient-initiated swearing and violence in emergency care and mental health services, psychological support for the secondary victims of crime, and therapeutic engagement with persons considered difficult to treat.

Professor Hazelton has undertaken consultancies and sat on expert committees for various governments in Australia. He is a past Editor of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing and is currently an editorial board member of four peer reviewed professional journals including the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

To date he has supervised 15 PhD students to successful completion; received awards for mental health nursing research; was a member of the expert committee that developed the NHMRC Clinical Practice Guideline for Borderline Personality Disorder; and was a member of the Health Workforce Australia Mental Health Workforce Reform Program Advisory Group. In 2003 he was made a Life Member of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, the highest honour awarded by that professional organisation. 

Future Focus

Improving access to treatment and care for people living with mental illness, through improving communication and collaborative treatment decision-making between health professionals and people living with mental illness.  

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Application of citizenship models to mental health treatment outcomes
  • Challenging stigma-laden professional and community discourses through evidence-based clinical practices
  • Use of self-awareness techniques to challenge the mis-use of professional power
  • Techniques for engaging health professionals in debates focusing on the moral and ethical implications of practice