Mental health first aid

Article image - Mental health first aid Council Depot staff - Council has rolled out mental health training to 50 staff and 200 young people this year.

Mount Alexander Shire Council, Victoria, has placed youth mental health high on the agenda, working to train more than 50 of its staff and 200 local students in mental health first aid this year.

Mental health emerged as a priority in the Council Plan 2017-2021 and has been identified in the strategic plans of local community health organisations in the shire.

As a result Council is working to improve the mental health literacy of its staff.

A group of Council’s outdoor workers recently attended Youth Mental Health First Aid training. The workshops were very popular, with a wait list for the next round.

“I’ve gained more confidence in dealing with mental health issues at work and at home,” one participant said. “Everyone should do this course.”

Council has achieved silver accreditation in the Mental Health First Aid Skilled Workplaces Initiative, established by Mental Health First Aid Australia.

This acknowledges that 10 percent of staff have received Youth Mental Health First Aid training.

With the recent training of outdoor workers, Council will now be eligible to apply for gold accreditation as more than 20 percent of staff are now trained.

Mental Health has also been identified as a top priority for young people.

Youth Development Officer, Shannon Lacy, said, “Mental health and understanding how to manage when things go wrong, is so important and that’s why we’ve placed such emphasis on it over the last few years.”

Since 2015 more than 600 students and 40 teachers have gone through the training which is offered as part of Council’s Youth Wellbeing Project.

The project aims to build the resilience and mental health of young people within the shire and is delivered in partnership with Central Victorian Primary Care Partnership and Castlemaine Secondary College.

“Mental health first aid training teaches people how to recognise a possible emerging mental health issue or a mental health crisis. The training helps people to understand what to do if they are worried about someone in their lives,” said Ms Lacy.

Isabel Lynzaat, a Year 11 student who recently completed the training praised the program.

“It was really good to learn what to do when your friends (or yourself) are struggling.”