Mental Health First Aid - A Zonta District 23 service project
Mental Health problems are common and significantly impact individuals and their communities. Around one in five Australian adults will experience a mental health problem in any year. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians up to the age of 44.
The Zonta Club of Bendigo wants to make a difference by providing training for adult women within our community with Mental Health First Aid skills.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence-based course that, like physical first aid, teaches community members how to provide a helpful and supportive initial response to someone experiencing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis, such as at risk of suicide or a panic attack. It does not teach people how to be a counsellor or therapist. Anyone can be a Mental Health First Aider.
Women are often the connectors within their communities. By empowering as many women as possible within our communities, more people have the skills to support someone with a mental health problem and potentially save lives. In rural and regional areas where access to professional mental health services is more limited, having mental health first aid skills throughout the community becomes even more vital. We know that someone experiencing a mental health problem is more likely to seek help, and earlier, if someone they know suggests it to them.
Imagine communities where women felt skilled and empowered to notice the signs that a friend, family member or colleague is not travelling well, and then how to help effectively. What impact might that have?
* Less stigma around mental health in the community?
* People seeking help earlier for mental health problems and therefore getting better outcomes?
* Lives saved?
* People who feel confident, and not fearful or uncomfortable, about conversations with others about their mental health?
Evaluations of the program not only show an increase in knowledge and more support provided to others as a result of attending the course, it also shows reduced stigmatising attitudes.
SO much is possible. Through this project Zonta is hoping to make these impacts closer to a reality.