The Muswellbrook community is situated an hour and a half west of Newcastle, NSW. As a small rural community, the availability of services is limited particularly mental health education and support services.
The local community recently identified the need to work proactively to raise the understanding and identification of mental health issues, particularly among young people.
The training raises self-awareness in participants regarding mental health and enables young people to identify any concerns in both themselves and among their peers. It better equips parents and teachers to identify and respond to any concerns and focuses on how to facilitate access to support services.
Upper Hunter Community Services is the region's leading provider of community and social services. They have worked on a number of projects with Muswellbrook High School in the past and as such have developed a strong relationship with its community of students and teachers.
Upper Hunter Community services will deliver a series of two-day mental health first aid courses to a group of 300 Year 10 and 11 students, their parents and teachers.
This unique approach delivers a specialised teen mental health first aid course to young people in school, while their parents, carers and teachers undertake a youth mental health first aid course which focuses on teaching participants how to recognise and assist adolescents who are at risk of developing or already experiencing mental health problems.
Course participants learn about adolescent development, signs and symptoms of common and disabling mental health problems in young people, as well as the available avenues of support.
By educating people on mental health the aim of the program is to build a stronger, more informed community that is well equipped to meet the needs of their young people and ultimately reduce mental illness and suicide rates. It will also help reduce the stigma associated with mental health and build positive relationships between students and their peers, teachers and carers.