Eden's John Skelton has helped thousands of Australians living with mental illness, a lifetime's work that was recognised this week with an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
It would be fair to say the effective treatment of mental illness has been John's quest in life but especially since a member of his family was diagnosed with schizophrenia 32-years ago.
It was a tough time for the family, even for John, an experienced psychologist, and his wife Margaret.
"The doctors had no answers apart from drugs and from my own experience, I knew how limited their effectiveness was and all the side effects that came with them," John said.
Margaret nods, remembering those painful times.
Dissatisfied with their family member's treatment, John started searching for alternatives and came across a new approach used by American physicians and bio-chemists Dr Carl Pfeiffer and Dr William J. Walsh.
Pfeiffer was famously involved in administering LSD to volunteer American prison inmates in the 1970s, but was also a pioneer of the links between illness, chemical imbalances and nutrition.
Before he died of a heart attack at his desk in 1988, the 80-year-old co-founded orthomolecular psychiatry, a method of testing for chemical imbalances in patients and tailoring a treatment of supplements, diet and medicines.
His work was carried on by Dr Walsh, who has led studies on the chemical make-up of musical genius Beethoven and criminals such as Charles Manson and Richard Speck as well as continuing to treat patients and train doctors.
On discovering their work, John cast his scientific eye over some papers, attended a rare workshop on the subject in Sydney and in 1997 decided to go to the United States with a colleague to meet Dr Walsh.
The successful trip led to the establishment of the Bio-Balance Health Association Inc (BBHA), a collaboration that would bring Walsh's work to Australian families and doctors.
"We had to bring this to Australia," John said.
It took five years to convince even one pathology laboratory to analyse the required tests.
"The numbers we could offer them weren't very lucrative initially, but it is now because thousands of patients are coming through," John laughed.
In 2004, with John as inaugural Vice-President of BBHA, Dr Walsh came to Australia to host the first outreach clinic and conference, now held annually.
Around 200 patients are treated, with 30 to 40 doctors participating.
Dr Lily Thomas of Pambula is one such local practitioner.
Internationally Bio-Balance’s Outreach is also attended by doctors from the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and Ireland.
"The doctors who decide to take on the training sit in on the consultations, and they also attend lectures at night. It's a really intensive 10 days," John said.
"At the end of that we have a conference which is open to the public and we usually get two or three hundred people along."
John said there is a high probability the treatment will have success for most patients.
"Most mental illnesses can be rectified with the appropriate treatment," John said.
"It's very complex but usually the underlying causes of the disorder can be identified, and if they can be identified they can usually be rectified by using particular substances which are not just whole foods, they're the constituents of foods like vitamins or minerals," he said.
"Vitamin C plays a huge role in so many disorders. For instance you'll find that in almost every prescription that comes out of a consultation there is Vitamin C.
"Calcium and magnesium are also extremely important."
John said university medical faculties are placing more emphasis on nutrition but more is needed.
"I think it is starting to improve across the board, but up till 10 years or so ago, the basic training of a doctor, which is six years, would include something like eight hours in nutrition," he laughs uproariously.
"I'd like to see every doctor get thoroughly trained in nutrition, that's the essential basis."
For now, he will continue to advocate for mental health, motivated even after 32 years by a very special person.
"In our case we're living with it and that to me is a constant motivation," he said.
"In helping my family member, I was able to help a whole lot of other people."
Information about Bio-Balance Health Association Inc – www.biobalance.org.au
Information about Walsh Research Institute – www.walshinstitute.org
Dr Walsh has just published a book titled Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain which is available now through the above Bio-Balance website.