THE safety net and support networks for those struggling with mental illness in the Upper Hunter got a whole lot stronger last week after more than 100 people from across the district completed Youth Mental Health First Aid training.
Sports coaches, farmers, miners, police officers, teachers, mothers, fathers and grandparents were among those to complete the two-day courses in Muswellbrook, Denman, Murrurundi and Scone.
Participants were taught about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to help those in need and Davin Large, one of 11 men to complete the course in Muswellbrook, found it invaluable.
“This knowledge needs to be mainstream – what to look out for, key indicators of mental illness and knowing how and where to push people towards help when they need it,” he said.
“I’m a father of small children and a footy coach.
“This training has helped me understand that kids who come across as painful or difficult to deal with might actually be showing signs of mental illness.
“I’ve now got a few tools that I can pull out and help them if necessary.
“I also work in the mines and we know there are a lot of people struggling with the challenges of shiftwork.
“It only takes one person to pick up on the signs, to approach them and help get them the help they need.
“Instead of tiptoeing around the situation, I now know which websites I can direct them to for help, the phone numbers to call and can help them find a GP with an interest in mental health.”
The Where There’s A Will Foundation funded delivery of the course at a cost of $500 a head, with all participants to receive official accreditation as Mental Health First Aid officers.
Where There’s A Will co-founder Hilton Carrigan was particularly pleased to see so many men join in the latest round of training.
“With men at greater risk of suicide and men least likely to seek help it was just great to see so many men join in the training,” he said.
“Even better than that, we had fathers and sons and fathers and daughters doing the training together.
“This means that families are having these important conversations and it tells me that we’re all headed in the right direction.
“It’s one thing to talk about the mental health crisis, but it’s another thing to actually step up and do something about it.
“I’m just blown away that 100 people volunteered two days of their time to arm themselves with this knowledge and I feel like we’re going to have less people slipping through the safety nets we’re building for people with mental illness in the Upper Hunter.”
Anyone interested in registering for future Youth Mental Health First Aid training courses can contact firstname.lastname@example.org