You’re not trained to diagnose… you’re not trained to be the expert… you’re just trained to know how to best broach the subject with someone and how to help by just listening… and referring on… – Carol Raabus, ABC Radio Hobart
What is Mental Health First Aid Training?
After over 25 years’ working and developing professionally in the Human, Social and Community Services both in Brisbane and in Far North Queensland, I had confidence in my understanding of Mental Health matters and associated forms of intervention. However, I attended a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course, having had a positive past experience upskilling in related topics.
I was instantly so impressed by the high quality, skills-based, practical intervention on offer, I trained as an instructor at my own time and cost a mere few months later. This is a course open and accessible to anyone who wishes to increase their mental health knowledge, and to feel confident in initiating conversations that may reduce isolation, link someone with support, or even save lives.
Mental Health in Australia – The Facts
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) states that ‘1 in 5’ people currently living in Australia have or will have a diagnosable mental health condition or illness this year (1)
According to Mind Frame (2):
- around 45% of the Australian population would experience a common mental health disorder at least once during their lifetime, with the most recognisable mental health conditions experienced being anxiety and depression.
- It was estimated around 1 in 10 teens (aged 13 – 19) had self harmed in one form or another during their adolescence, with 20% of 16 – 17 year old females alone meeting the criteria for clinical depression during this period (3).
- Those with a diagnosable mental disorder averaged three days out of role (ie unable to undertake normal activity because of health problems) over a four-week period, compared with only one day out of role for people with no physical or mental health condition.
Given this evidence, attending the two day skills based training course and exiting with practical Mental Health First Aid first responder knowledge not only makes sense in the modern Australian workforce and community, arguably it should be mandatory!
Addressing Myths and Reducing Stigma
Mental Health First Aid provides a memorable and easy to use formula to apply, by teaching all participants how to first SPOT the signs of deteriorating mental health.
That is, by simply raising awareness and increasing knowledge about the signs and symptoms of possible mental health illness, provides first responders with potential entry points to meaningful and possibly productive ensuing conversations.
Isolation can then be reduced as the individual is coaxed to consider and identify forms of support. The responder is then able to meet workplace health and safety Duty of Care responsibilities, outside of just physical risk and/or harms.
Using a variety of interactive (and even fun!) activities to suit all different types of group dynamics and purposes, specific mental health conditions are discussed and explored in detail. Participants gain a clear and concise understanding of anxiety, depression, suicide and psychosis, with the emphasis on the human connection. They learn ‘Best Practice’ in addressing the signs, and potentially linking the individual with help.
Myths are busted and stigma potentially reduced, allowing participants to help spread the message that mental health affects us all, in different ways, on varying levels. And help is at hand … it is possibly only a simple and effective conversation away!
Having recently gained my accreditation as an instructor, I offer regular courses in Mental Health First Aid in Brisbane at M1 Psychology Loganholme – or at your workplace or venue. To enquire, or book your place in an upcoming training group, call (07) 3067 9129.
Author: Leigh Fraser-Gray, B Soc Work, B Soc Welfare, Dip Human and Community Services, Voc Grad Dip FDR
Leigh Fraser-Gray is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, with many years of experience in working with people in crisis and/or with a trauma background. She is passionate about maximising resilience in her clients, drawing on solutions focused, strengths based approaches.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.