RED HOUSE is the culmination of founder, Mary Lawson's 30+ year journey of treatment and observation  within the mental health system, and more than a decade of study, planning, and development, including many frustrating and fruitless attempts to harness the support of Governments. 


RED HOUSE is a public health initiative which encompasses all 5 action areas set out in the World Health Organisation's Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion Framework. RED HOUSE is guided by the WHO'S  Global Action Programme (mhGAP) which aims to ensure effective, ethical, equitable, and humane treatment for all with mental disorders, so that they, and their families are able to live productive lives in the community. The Programme "focuses on forging strategic partnerships to enhance countries’ capacity to combat stigma, reduce the burden of mental disorders and promote mental health". Successive Australian Governments have shown little interest in the WHO's objective of closing the gap between what is needed and what is currently available in order to reduce the burden of mental disorders worldwide.


As an organisation built on the fundamentals of Public Health RED HOUSE is guided by relevant definitions and objectives set out by the World Health Organisation. RED HOUSE fulfils all the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion's 5 core action goals, which are to:

  1. Strengthen Community Action

  2. Develop Personal Skills

  3. Create Supportive Environments

  4. Reorient Health Services

  5. Build Healthy Public Policy





The state of our current mental health system indicates that successive Australian governments have failed to live up to their 1986 WHO Conference pledge regarding the Ottawa Charter's Commitment to Health Promotion. By providing a community-based services which focusses on motivating, educating and empowering people with eating disorders toward recovery, with the intention of minimising the need for hospitalisations, RED HOUSE is fulfilling the pledge to reorient health services and their resources towards the promotion of health; and to share power with other sectors, other disciplines and, most importantly, with people themselves. Unlike current practices within the hospital environment, RED HOUSE advocates for, and enables the creation of health as defined by the Charter, which states that:


Health is created and lived by people within the settings of everyday life where they learn, work, play and love. Health is created by caring for one’s self and others, by being able to make decisions and have control over one’s life circumstances, and by ensuring that the society one lives in creates conditions that allow the attainment of heath by all its members.



In light of the overwhelming demand for, and dependence on hospital mental health units which push pharmaceuticals, that is a commitment from which I see hospitals, and psychiatry, moving further and further away.

RED HOUSE provides patient centred care which incorporates:

  • Ethics

  • Equity

  • Efficacy

  • Empowerment

  • Evidence-based Practice

  • Evaluation which is specifically designed for eating disorders

  • The WHO Quality Rights Toolkit

  • Recovery-Oriented Care

  • Trauma-Informed Care

These are all tenets which are severely lacking with regards to current practices and protocols for treatment of eating disorders within the current hospital milieu. Current practices do not meet the definition of good treatment as defined by Andrews (1991):

“Everyone knows the characteristics of good treatment: it should, for a defined condition, reduce symptoms, disability and, after recovery, the risk of relapse. Such progress should be easily and reliably measured... Furthermore, good treatment must be able to be manufactured or taught to others, so that it can be delivered to all who need it. Good treatment, widely applied, should have a demonstrable effect on the prevalence of a disorder, not just by preventing recurrence but by shortening the duration and severity of illness in those who are ill”.

©  Website created by Mary Jane Lawson. Updated 2019.