Rockingham Peel Group tops Australia for mental health first aid

A group of a range of hospital staff
Staff from a range of professional backgrounds have completed training, from allied health and nursing to security, volunteers and patient support services
October 4, 2018

Rockingham Peel Group has become the first and only health service in Australia to have more than 260 staff qualified in mental health first aid (MHFA).

MHFA is an award winning training program designed to give participants a greater awareness and understanding of the most common mental health issues.

Participants learn how to recognise changes in behaviour and respond confidently and appropriately to guide the person to professional resources and assistance.

MHFA instructors, Psychiatric Liaison Nurses Jill Jamieson and Kathy Bruton, have run 39 courses to date.

“There are a multitude of benefits in having staff across the system trained in mental health first aid,” Jill said.

“Mental health first aiders feel more confident to ask a patient about their mental wellbeing.

“The training also works to reduce stigma and increase empathy for those experiencing a mental health issue.”

Jill said it was important to recognise that mental health issues are not just confined to people who are already accessing mental health services.

“Approximately one in five Australians experience issues with mental health,” Jill said.

“Following the course, participants are equipped to arrange assistance for themselves, colleagues, family members and friends.”

Rockingham Peel Group staff from a range of professional backgrounds have completed training, from allied health and nursing to security, volunteers and patient support services.

Patient Support Services Manager Vicki Lea, whose team is recognised as a Gold Skilled Workplace for MHFA training, said she has seen benefits across the board.

“Patient support staff have regular contact with patients, serving food, cleaning their room etc., and often find that patients open up to them,” Vicki said.

“The MHFA training helps staff to recognise when a patient might say something that requires further investigation and can relay this to clinical staff to follow up.

“In addition, as a manager of nearly 200 staff it is not uncommon for me to have conversations with staff about their mental wellbeing.

“Now that I have completed the training, I feel confident and equipped to provide my staff with options to seek professional help and address their concerns, leading to a healthier and happier workforce.”

Rockingham Peel Group continues to provide MHFA training to staff.

For more information about the training, visit the Mental Health First Aid Australia website (external site).