Teaching adults how to best help at risk youth

The first of what is hoped will be a series of local workshops to upskill adults so they can better assist youth experiencing mental health problems has been heralded a success.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) course was conducted over two days on February 11 and 18 in Timboon after funding was secured through the ‘Look Over the Farm Gate’ (LOTFG) initiative.

LOTFG recognised the crucial need for additional health and wellbeing support for fire-affected farms and farming communities following the St Patrick’s Day fires.

The first course was a project jointly led by Nikita Wheaton from Realistic Wellbeing and Amanda Nash, a community health nurse at Timboon and District Healthcare Service.

Ms Nash said the LOTFG funding was made possible by Agriculture Victoria, Victorian Farmers Federation, Royal Flying Doctor Service, National Centre for Farmer Health, Country Fire Authority and Country Women’s Association.

“Look Over the Farm Gate is in many ways a call to action for rural communities to look out for one another, promote social inclusion, create awareness about mental health and reduce the impact it has on rural communities,” she said.

“The Youth Mental Health First Aid course taught the 20 adults who attended how to assist adolescents who may be experiencing a mental health problem, or mental health crisis, until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves – using a practical and evidence-based action plan.

“This course is based on guidelines developed through the expert consensus of people with real experience of mental health problems and professionals.”

Ms Wheaton said the course covered five common mental health problems – depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis and substance use.

She said it also assisted with a number of mental health crises including suicidal thoughts and behaviors, non-suicidal self-injury, panic attacks, traumatic events, severe psychotic states, severe effects from alcohol or other drug use and aggressive behaviors.

“Participants learnt about adolescent development and the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, how and where to get help and what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective,” she said.

“In providing free YMHFA training to our community we’re working towards acknowledging mental health while also working towards reducing the stigma often associated with mental illness.

“The passion and interest regarding mental health from community members is truly remarkable and shows the great need for further courses to improve mental health literacy in our community.”

TDHS is taking expressions of interest from community members to attend future YMHFA courses once funding can be secured. To register your interest please call Ms Nash on 5558 6000.

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