Mental Health First Aid and Rotary

When the teenager falls from his bike, you apply First Aid. You cleanse the bleeding arm, bandage it, give the boy a hug, then drive him to the doctor to check if stitches are needed and if there's concussion.
  • What First Aid do you or I give to the teenager whose constant mood swings may be the onset of schizophrenia ?
  • What First Aid is appropriate or possible ?
  • To young or older people, to our family members, to friends, to neighbours, to someone in our street or work-place ?
  • Before the person is taken to see the doctor ?
  • Can First Aid be given by you or me ?

A well-researched and well documented Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course organised by Orygen of
Melbourne University is being used by corporates such as Australia Post, to help identify, be with, and assist work-mates, families and colleagues.

Local welfare groups are sending employees to do this First Aid course. The Rotary Club of Bundoora has two members whose career is in Mental Health. One is a mental health nurse and administrator, the other is a mental health chaplain, recently retired. So their Club partly sponsored the 12-hour First Aid course nearby in West Heidelberg. It may be a Rotary "first". Other courses and Rotarians will be able to take up later courses.

The presenter is from Orygen and is backed by Francis Aqua of the Rotary Club of Bundoora, who is a qualified presenter. Between 12 and 20 participants are signed up. The cost of four three-hour sessions including booklet and handouts is $110.

The stigma of mental ill-health and the inability of governments to tackle it sufficiently, opens the way for Rotary to encourage members and friends to look at First Aid for Mental Health. Here is a local beginning.

Fr. Wayne Edwards
Rotary Club of Bundoora
Phone: (03) 9457 5794

Update 2011

Would you know what to do in a mental health crisis?

In 2008, 2,191 Australians committed suicide. Over three quarters of them were male. 103 were Indigenous Australians.

While suicide accounts for only a relatively small proportion (around 1.5%) of all deaths in Australia, its impact on specific age groups is great.
According to ABS statistics, in 2008 24% of all male deaths aged 15-24 were due to suicide and more men aged over 85 years die as a result of suicide than any other age group.

Females did not fare much better, with the median age at death for females who died from suicide just 43.5 years and suicide rates for women aged over 60 remaining consistently high.

Betty Kitchener and Professor Tony Jorm began running Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses as a community service activity.
MHFA acts as the first line of intervention in much the same way as medical first aid, teaching participants ways of assisting someone in a mental health related crisis before professional assistance becomes available.

Now, Australian Rotary Health, in conjunction with Rotary Clubs around Australia, are running their own preventative mental health first aid workshops that aim to assist in providing support to community members who are at risk of or who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

By supporting Australian Rotary Health, you can make a difference to your community by helping fund essential programs.

To find our more please visit the ARH website (at left) or call (02) 8837 1900 for more information.
All donations over $2 are tax deductible.
PDG Alan Anderson (Dorothy)
Rotary Club of Eltham
District Chair Australian Rotary Health
(H) (03) 94393953
(M) 0419 330 774