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A first aid course in Mental Health has now been successfully completed by some 90 people across the Archdiocese.
With an aim to identify and address the needs of those experiencing mental health issues across the Archdiocese, as well as their families and carers, the course is held over two Saturdays at the Emmanuel Centre in Perth. The next course dates are 26 August and 9 September. Applications are being accepted now.
Chaplain for the Catholic Ministry for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Fr Paul Pitzen said that with the course now its fourth year, a number of scholarships have also been accepted and well received, with some 20 people who are deaf and/or hard of hearing also having completed the course.
“The Mental Health First Aid course enables a participant to assist others who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or developing a mental health problem,” Fr Pitzen said.
“Participants learn the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, where and how to get help and what sort of help has been shown through research to be effective.
“The first aid is administered until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis resolves,” he explained.
Fr Pitzen went on to say that in figures published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, almost 48 per cent of people with a severe or profound disability experience a mental health issue, compared to six per cent of people without a disability.
“It has therefore been imperative that we include people with a disability in this training as it means they are better equipped to help other deaf people in need,” he added.
Upon completion of the course, participants are then invited to be part of the Catholic Mental Health Network (CMHN) which meets once every six to eight weeks.
The aim of the CMHN is to have one or two people from every parish trained in Mental Health First Aid as part of this network.
Fr Pitzen explained that since completion of the first Mental Health First Aid course in 2013, members of the CMHN have been quietly but actively promoting mental health in their own parishes.
“For example, our members from the North Beach and Glendalough parishes organised mental health talks in June and August of last year titled ‘Coping with Change,’ which covers how change can affect individuals and how individuals can learn to reduce personal stress and develop a plan to support themselves through times of change,” Fr Pitzen said.
“Another member from Baldivis recently organised a mental health stall at their parish expo, and some others provide willing ears over a cup of morning tea after Mass to anyone who might need them.”
Fr Pitzen also noted that participants of the course also come away with skills and knowledge to use in their own lives too.
“Many reported having used the skills within their own family, relatives and at work. One of our members, Sebastian told us about the time when his relative had a surgery complication and had to stay in ICU for many weeks.
“Using the skills from Mental Health First Aid training, Sebastian was able to talk with her and ask how she had been coping. Sebastian admitted he wouldn’t have done that in the past as he wouldn’t have known what to say. Another member, Louise said how the Mental Health First Aid skills have been useful in her work with teenagers at a high school. She said the course has allowed her to understand these young adults better and help them where necessary,” he concluded.