Chris Tanti believes in young people. From early days as a social worker working across intellectual and physical disability, HIV/AIDS, Substance Use, forensic and community mental health, and university counselling, the bulk of his career has been dedicated to helping people find their way through the maze of challenges and pressures they face during crucial formative years.
Through all that, however, he knew if people were ever going to get the right support for them the system of care they needed to access required reform. As a leader with more than 15 years management experience, his career has been characterised by developing new programs, modernising services and hospitals and influencing policy so end users could get the most out of public and private health resources. For the last seven years as CEO of the world’s leading youth mental health organisation, headspace, Tanti has focussed his attention on making a real difference to the lives of tens of thousands of young Australians and their families by working with others to create a model of care that is comprehensive, accessible and importantly valued.
The Harvard Business School trained Tanti has led headspace since its inception in 2006, turning it into an extraordinarily successful operation funded by the Commonwealth Government in Australia to deliver early intervention mental health services for 12 to 25 year olds across the country. Tanti’s mission was to turn the youth mental health service paradigm on its head and create something better that actually met the health and wellbeing needs of young people in a way that suited them. Tanti acknowledges the success of headspace has required both a sense of humour and the energy and talents of many mentors and staff.
With its 55 (soon to be 90) centres offering face-to-face services, Australia’s only fully professionally-staffed online and telephone support service eheadspace, the school-based suicide postvention program headspace School Support and new funding to deliver early intervention psychosis, headspace is achieving that mission. Tanti’s next big challenge is collaborating with others to take headspace to the rest of the world, because all young people deserve access to a world class system of care that enables them to be the very best they can be.