Push to upskill GPs and raise awareness during Mental Health Week
In the lead-up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October, Minister for Health Greg Hunt is backing the release of a Workforce Development Framework for building the capabilities of health and community professionals to intervene early in the mental health trajectory of young Australians.
The framework outlines the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health’s strategy to support health, social and community professionals in identifying, assessing and supporting infants and children who are at risk of, or currently experiencing, mental health difficulties. The centre is delivered by Emerging Minds in partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), the Australian National University (ANU), the Parenting Research Centre (PRC) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
The framework is built on extensive needs assessments identifying knowledge gaps amongst GPs and other health, social and community practitioners on how to support the mental health of infants, children and families. It also responds to the widespread acknowledgment of the need for early identification of mental health risk factors for infants and children.
Phil Robinson PSM, Chair of Emerging Minds, said the focus on the mental health of infants and young children is particularly relevant given research that shows early action can improve lifetime mental health outcomes.
“While we recognise that there are many examples of proactive and effective practices in Australia and internationally to support the mental health of young people, there is a need for even more to be done for infants and children under the age of 12,” Robinson said.
“One in seven children up to the age of seven experience a mental health condition and only one in six of these children currently receives help. Overall, half of all lifetime mental illnesses emerge in childhood.”
Hunt said the centre is an important part of the federal government’s reforms to improve the mental health system and that it is “heartening to see the centre’s innovative, practical resources and tools coming to life”.
“The aim is that the resources will help professionals feel supported and confident to work with infants, children and their families to identify, assess and support children at risk of or experiencing mental health difficulties,” he stated.
Robinson said, “We understand the systemic, organisational and individual challenges faced by families and practitioners, and with the government’s support, we will continue working collaboratively to overcome these issues.
“This framework underpins our commitment to support early action, early in life, to improve the mental prosperity of Australia.”
In separate news, the Workplace Mental Health Institute and BridgeClimb Sydney have partnered together to launch a new initiative, ‘Climb for Mental Health’, which will involve climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge every year on 8 October, during Mental Health Week.
The official launch and inaugural Climb for Mental Health bridge climb took place on Tuesday, with 12 prominent Australians taking part in the climb to showcase the importance of moving onwards and upwards to raise awareness of mental health — including Councillor Dr Kerryn Phelps, rugby league legend Glenn Lazarus and actor Cameron Daddo.
The Climb for Mental Health initiative is the brainchild of Peter Diaz and Emi Golding, the founders and Directors of the Workplace Mental Health Institute. Recognised as world leaders in the field of workplace mental health, they believe the concept will bolster Australia’s reputation as a nation committed to action on mental health in the workplace.
“Climb for Mental Health is a world-first Australian idea that will bring 12 prominent people together every year to promote mental health across the globe,” Diaz said.
“The Sydney Harbour Bridge, right here in Australia, will become a beacon for hope and positive change around the globe on 8 October every year.
“As people, we all suffer from different challenges and issues. Climb for Mental Health signifies that we can reach up, we can climb out of the darkness, we can lift ourselves up and others with us.”
BridgeClimb Sydney CEO Chris Zumwalt said, “We are thrilled to be part of this fantastic initiative. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia’s most iconic pieces of infrastructure recognised by people all over the world.
“To host such a great event of this nature each year will further position the bridge as an important tourist destination and also a symbol of hope and courage for many throughout Australia and the world — another reason to visit Sydney, Australia.”
The launch also involves the release of Diaz and Golding’s latest book — Mental Wealth: An Essential Guide to Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing. According to Diaz, the book “provides important guidance for all organisations, leaders and managers on mental health in the workplace and how to build resilient and meaningful cultures and processes that enable organisations to support and appropriately manage those with mental health issues”.
He added, “Workplaces can, and do, cause and contribute to mental health issues. That is why we see a high number of suicides linked to workplace issues. At all levels, workplaces should be safe places, both physically and mentally, and this book provides practical advice on how to make this happen across an organisation.”
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