Mental Health First Aid training


Kim, pictured with the textbook, is ready to spring into action.

What is mental health first aid? ’[It] is the help offered to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis resolves. (Kitchener, Jorm, & Kelly, 2013, p. 12)

“Whilst people often know a lot about common physical health problems, ignorance of mental health is prevalent. Regular first aid courses are widespread, however most of these courses do not address helping with mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training aims to fill this gap.” (Mental Health First Aid International , n.d.)

Panorama took a peek at a Mental Health First Aid course presented by Fay Jackson, Flourish Australia’s General Manager of Inclusion on two days over two consecutive weeks at the Figtree Conference centre. Fay is an accredited Principal Master Trainer. That means she has had more than 30 (in Fay’s case a LOT more than 30) previous presentations. There were approximately 23 people, managers, staff and employees mainly from two organisations, RichmondPRA and Physical Disability Council of NSW.

All participants were later able to do a 15 minute on-line exam following which, if successful, they were able to gain MHFA accreditation and download a certificate.

With the NDIS upon us, it is good to know as much as possible about the WHOLE disability sector.

Among the participants we were pleased to host an invited group of people from the Physical Disability Council of NSW. Sharon, Ellen, Melanie and Wilhelmina all agreed that the training would be very useful in their line of work; a helpful form of career development. The PDCN often deals with enquiries from the public- and members of the public don’t fall into neat categories according to type of disability. Many people live with combinations of physical, intellectual or psychosocial disability.

Sharon told us that this sort of training also serves to foster inclusion. With the NDIS upon us, it is good to know as much as possible about the WHOLE disability sector. Melanie pointed out that not only is it useful to incorporate new knowledge in to your own practice, but it is good to be able to draw the line at what your job is not. Knowing when to hand over to another person, and who to hand over too, is an important thing to know for people who work with people!

Sharon (see story on pages 4-5) really liked the way that lived experience was incorporated into the training. Fay used examples from her own personal story with which Sharon was able easily to identify, even though the nature of her own disability (cerebral palsy) would seem quite different from a mental health issue. She said she would recommend the course to anyone.

MHFA has a network of over 1,000 accredited Instructors across Australia. To find a course in your local area, the web site has a course calendar and a function that allows you to ‘find an instructor in your area.’ There are also e-learning courses available. You can find more information on their web site. WH

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