Butler teachers learn mental health training skills at Connect for Mental Health launch


Kingsley MLA and Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell at the Connect for Mental Health launch.
Kingsley MLA and Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell at the Connect for Mental Health launch.

TEACHERS from a Butler school were among attendees at the launch of a free online mental health training tool this month.

Relationships Australia WA has developed Connect for Mental Health, which aims to help people better understand mental health and recognise others who may be at risk of mental health decline or contemplating suicide.

Kingsley MLA and Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell was at the event, along with teachers and representatives from organisations including Netball WA, Cancer Council WA and the WA Farmers Federation.

Funded by the Department of Social Services and created by Relationships Australia WA clinical staff using recognised mental health information and research, the tool introduces the Signs, Time, Reach out, Empathy and Support (STRES) model.

Project co-ordinator Sue Aspin said it was created for adults who may need these skills for work or community activities.

“They might be teachers, sports coaches, librarians, hairdressers, office workers, farmers or anyone else,” she said.

“Connect for Mental Health aims to help everyday Australians to notice the signs that someone may be struggling, and give them the confidence to reach out to that person.”

Teacher Chelsea Sidaway, of Jindalee, said she was pleased with the availability of the tool as she found the number of her students experiencing mental health issues “overwhelming”.

“I have found that if someone does recognise a person is in crisis with regards to their mental health, they do not know enough about these conditions to be able to appropriately support or assist the person,” she said.

“I am hyper aware that I am not a psychologist, and am continually cautious of providing neutral, yet informative advice to students who suffer from mental health conditions, as this is not my area of expertise or qualification.”

Ms Aspin said they planned to work with other organisations to adapt the training to suit specific groups and audiences.

“We would like this to reach as many people in the community as possible and be accessible to everyone,” she said.

“When members of the community look out for each other and feel they can approach someone and effectively talk to them about their mental health, we can reduce the risk of that person declining further and, if needed, guide them towards some help.

“In the event the person is contemplating suicide, we may even save their life.”

Organisations and groups can request a presentation by emailing marketing@relationshipswa.org.au.

To access Connect for Mental Health, visit www.relationshipswa.org.au/connect.