James Packer has donated $7 million toward mental health research, with a focus on mood disorders.
The generous donation comes after Mr Packer revealed he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when giving evidence to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority in 2020.
Mr Packer, who Forbes estimates has a net worth of $AU4 billion, stepped down as executive chair of Crown Resorts in March 2018 for mental health reasons.
The gift will establish the James Packer Chair in Mood Disorders at the University of NSW which will lead a new unit at the university with the Mindgardens Neuroscience Network.
The unit will “conduct rigorous research in mental health with a particular focus on mood disorders such as bipolar disease”.
Mr Packer was not shy about his motivation for the donation.
“It is no secret that I have struggled with mental health problems in the past,” he said.
“I am a passionate advocate of finding ways to improve mental health outcomes and I am hopeful that my contribution towards this research will generate positive outcomes in this field and in so doing significantly improve the lives of people battling mental health issues both in Australia and around the world.”
Vice-Chancellor and President of UNSW Sydney Professor Attila Brungs said the gift will support collaborative research and drive meaningful change in an increasingly vital field of healthcare.
“Research changes people‘s lives. We appreciate James Packer’s generous donation, which will enable UNSW researchers to develop new treatments and interventions for people experiencing mental health disorders,” he said.
Those who have bipolar disorder experience shifts between periods of depression and periods of mania in which they may experience psychosis.
Around two per cent of Australians are affected by bipolar disorder which can be difficult to diagnose according to Beyond Blue.
Mr Packer revealed that he had made progress with his mental health struggles last year.
“I got off all my antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs in March,” he told The Weekend Australian in June 2022 from his home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“In 10 years, and hopefully before then, I hope to have rehabilitated my reputation in Australia and elsewhere.”
“Mental health is a pressing global challenge, and this gift will help us make real progress in this critical area of research.”
The “exceptional gift” will help to accelerate mental health initiatives according to UNSW Medicine & Health Dean Professor Vlado Perkovic.