After helping to establish a Nonprofit organisation to support disadvantaged young women Michelle Chadwick decided to dedicate her time to a cause closer to home and one she could see was lacking some much needed attention. When Michelle started out she discovered that there was a lack of information, support, and education for neurological sleep disorders like Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH) and Narcolepsy. It was typical for people to come away with a diagnosis but not much else. There was nowhere to direct family and friends so that they could better understand IH and the implications it has on quality of life. There were no support services available, no research being done in Australia and no PBS approved medications specifically for Idiopathic Hypersomnia. She also found that the medications that are available are often not overly effective and can even make the symptoms worse.
While there are many organisations that represent various sleep disorders there were no organisations anywhere in the world that catered specifically to Idiopathic Hypersomnia so Michelle set out to change that. At the beginning of 2013 Michelle set up the world’s first Not for Profit organisation dedicated to Idiopathic Hypersomnia. Hypersomnolence Australia (HA) was registered as a Health Promotion Charity in March that year. HA is committed to being a strong advocate, raising awareness and educating others about Idiopathic Hypersomnia. HA's goal is to change not just the process of diagnosis but also the level of care and services available to people post diagnosis.
In September of 2013 Michelle launched the world’s first IH Awareness initiative. This was a month long event that is now recognised as the annual Worldwide Idiopathic Hypersomnia Awareness Week® (IHAW) held every year during the first full week in September. The IHAW is hosted by HA and brings together people from all over the world.
Michelle has also since created Living with Idiopathic Hypersomnia online support groups in Australia/NZ, the USA, Canada, and the EMEA region (Europe/UK, Middle East, and Africa). These groups meet regularly via video and offer much needed peer support.
Hypersomnolence Australia has come a long way since it was established. We now work with a range of professionals to make sure our information is both helpful and informative. We receive advice and support from various medical health professionals in and outside of Australia and work with other sleep organisations to share valuable information and provide a link to our broader Idiopathic Hypersomnia community.
Along with being the Director of Hypersomnolence Australia, Michelle is also a passionate sleep health advocate providing support and information for all sleep disorders so it made sense for her to join forces with Sleep Disorders Australia (SDA), Australia's peak patient body for sleep disorders. In 2017 she joined SDA as a Director and is now SDA's National Chairperson. In 2020 her passion for sleep health led her to create Australia’s first Sleep Health & Wellbeing Expo. The first expo will be held in Brisbane on 9th April 2022.