18 October 2022

Course offers crucial tools to help make a difference for youth with mental health problems

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Wagga Wagga City Council youth development officer Alex Osgood says the course offers invaluable skills to help young people with mental health problems. Photo: Wagga Wagga City Council.

As part of Mental Health Month, a two-day, face-to-face course offers practical tips that can make a difference in the life of a young person with mental health problems.

Wagga Wagga City Council is offering the Youth Mental Health First Aid course in partnership with the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) and the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People.

The council said thanks to funding from the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People, the course, which normally costed $350, had been reduced to $20 plus a booking fee.

The course will be facilitated by accredited psychologist and MLHD clinical leader John Dean. It is based on guidelines developed by people with lived experience of mental health problems, and professionals.

The course equips participants with the skills to recognise and respond to an adolescent who may be experiencing a mental health problem or crisis situation.

Using a practical, evidence-based action plan, it teaches attendees how to support an adolescent until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves.

Participants must be over 18 years of age and be present for the full two days to become accredited youth mental health first aiders.

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The council’s youth development officer Alex Osgood said many people in the community who worked with young people and had built a strong relationship with them may notice a change in their behaviour but lacked the skills or tools on how to help.

“This course covers everything from that early conversation right through to crisis support where you may need to be with a young person until professional help arrives to take over,” Ms Osgood said.

”You’ll learn about anxiety, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar, as well as how to talk about suicide and self-harm with young people.

“And we’re so lucky to have John Dean facilitating. As a local, accredited psychologist who works in health, John has a wealth of local knowledge, so attendees will be able to walk away with increased confidence to have those conversations, see the signs, and respond in a suitable manner.”

The next session will be held on Monday 24 October, from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm and Tuesday 25 October, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

The sessions will be held at the council’s meeting room at the Civic Centre.

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Lunch, tea/coffee and a copy of a Youth MHFA manual to take home will be provided.

The council emphasised that this was a face-to-face, 14-hour educational course, not a therapy or support group.

Click here to register.

For more information, contact Ms Osgood on 1300 292 442 or email [email protected].

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the digital mental health gateway Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467.

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