Forty five people from around the Goldfields region in Western Australia are currently enrolled in Grow Local, a Certificate IV in Mental Health, which is being provided free of charge.
The WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) recognised the gap in existing mental health services and the need for this particular expertise.
According to WAPHA’s regional manager Tralee Cable, while the number of locally-based mental health professionals has increased overall since July 2017, it was acknowledged that a complementary grassroots approach was needed.
“It’s critical to train local people who understand the unique conditions, environment and family dynamics in the region. There’s a strong demand for locally provided training and this initiative strengthens the suicide prevention work currently being undertaken in these communities – community led, driven, and championed,” Ms Cable said.
The $100,000 program is jointly funded by WAPHA and the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project.
“The outcome of a trained and supported community of mental health workers is powerful. Not only are communities empowered, but the perceptions about mental wellbeing, that it is fine to seek help, become a normal part of human experience in our society,” Professor Pat Dudgeon, UWA School of Indigenous Studies, said.
WAPHA engaged the Australian Medical Association WA (AMA) training division to design and deliver the training in Kalgoorlie, Leonora and Norseman.
When the participants graduate in July 2018, they will strengthen the region’s existing WAPHA funded mental health workforce, comprising two experienced, full-time psychologists who are supported by a network of 14 counsellors operating out of Kalgoorlie, Esperance and the Northern Goldfields.
Need to talk to someone? If you need immediate assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression, contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or www.beyondblue.org.au or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.