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Council focuses on mental health first aid

Group photo of young people in library

Council's investment in improving mental health has led to 200 students and 40 staff trained in mental health first aid this year.

Monday 13 August 2018

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

“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,” said Shannon Lacy, Youth Development Officer, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

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,” said Isabel.

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

In addition to local young people, Council is also 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 in July. 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% 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% of staff are now trained.

Council will run a series of workshops in October for parents and interested members of the community. The training is delivered over four sessions, with more details to come. To register your interest please contact Shannon Lacy at youth@mountalexander.vic.gov.au or phone 5471 1700.

If you require assistance or support around your own mental health and wellbeing or you are concerned about a person in your life, please call Castlemaine District Community Health on 5479 1000 for local advice or referral. To speak to a professional call Kids Help Line on 1800 551 800 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. For around the clock psychiatric information, assessment and referral call 1300 363 788.

Image: Year 11 students Frankie, Philip, Gussie, Lilly, Isabel and Rachael who recently participated in the mental health training.

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