One in three people will experience some kind of mental health issue in their lifetime.
With numbers like this, it is clearly a very common health problem, yet many people suffering feel isolated and stigmatised by their illness.
In the Blue Mountains there is a groundswell of community support for people living with mental illness, as well as, their family and friends. Local organisations are working together to raise community awareness and bring an end to stigma and health discrimination.
Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle, a long-time advocate for people affected by mental illness, has joined with local neighbourhood centres to champion this cause and support skills training through the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Program.
Ms Doyle met with representatives from Blackheath, Springwood and Winmalee Neighbourhood Centres to discuss ways to challenge the myths about mental illness and provide practical ways to impart knowledge and skills to enable family, friends and the wider community to support those experiencing a mental health concern or crisis.
“I am honoured to be recognised as a champion for this program. This is relevant to the entire community, but as a parent and former teacher, I am aware of the importance of early intervention and appropriate support, especially for young people. Youth Mental Health First Aid, one of the workshops offered, teaches practical skills to assist parents and people working with young people to identify the problem and then access the necessary support and expertise.”
Jo Davies, a community development worker at Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre, described the Standard and Youth MHFA workshops as “comprehensive, accessible and practical, and each one comes with a great manual”.
“In addition to training community members, we are keen to work with local schools and other organisations to train up as many people as possible [and] we are very lucky to have MHFA trainer, Jane Armstrong, partnering with us to provide MHFA training to the Blue Mountains community.
“Workshops will run in Katoomba on April 5 and 6 and Lawson (mid-year), as well as, in Springwood during Mental Health month (October),” Ms Davies said.
Ms Doyle said it was a “fabulous opportunity to learn more about mental health, how we can best respond and where we can refer people for support”.
“I encourage any member of our community and anyone working in a front-line position to attend this training. I for one will be encouraging my staff to attend the course.”
The first course this year will run at Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre on April 5 and 6. For more information call Jane Armstrong on 0422 363 912