As part of the Live4Life initiative across the Macedon Ranges, a 14-hour certificate course in Youth Mental Health First Aid was offered last term.
The free course was designed to improve the mental health knowledge, skills and attitudes of our community. The course was designed by Mental Health First Aid Australia and delivered by locally based trained instructors.
A PARENT’S VIEW OF WHY THE PROGRAM WAS SO BENEFICIAL FOR ALL PARENTS
Braemar College parent, Sue Hayes said that the course was an excellent, amazing, informative and challenging program.
I would highly encourage every parent/guardian to attend, especially those of Year 8s, to prepare us for what potentially lies ahead both as parents and parents of the L4L class. Three and a half hours at night after being at work all day, plus then driving home, is certainly a challenge, but absolutely worth it.
We spoke to Sue about why she thought parents should attend the program.
Why did you find the event worthwhile?
The course is free but it is a big time commitment, therefore it needs to be worth someone’s time and energy, to attend.
It is worthwhile because the content opens your eyes to what our children are going through and dealing with, both as a normal part of growing up and also what they are faced with as they socialise in the community.
The course also has useful information and statistics about the prevalence of various issues in the Shire and more broadly in society. For example, ice use is not the biggest problem.
What was the most important thing you gained from it?
The content is broken up into categories. It covers the topics of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis and substance misuse and various sub-topics within these.
The most important thing I learnt, that I did not know before, were the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression, in particular and being able to identify the difference between a usual/’normal’ non communicative adolescent and a child with a developing mental health condition.
It is easy to brush things aside and put it down to ‘typical’ behaviour, so parents and carers need to know the difference and need to know when to act.
Yes, I found it very relevant. I attended the MHFA course as my son is in Year 8 and doing the Live for Life (L4L) program. I thought it would be beneficial to do the course at this time to be aware of the content that is being presented through L4L and also to be aware of the potential challenges that adolescents face from Year 8 onwards.
The course is quite relevant from a professional / work perspective also, to be able to identify, assess and assist staff who may have or do have mental health issues.
Why would you recommend this event to other parents? Why should parents attend?
As I said to my son, it is easy to identify and deal with a physical injury; a broken arm, a bleeding wound. You see something wrong and you get it fixed and people know what to do and how to react.
Mental health needs to have the same status of being front of mind, talked about, identified and fixed, rather than have the stigma attached to it, of something to be hidden from your family, the community etc.
Just because you can’t see something does not mean that there isn’t a problem. I highly recommend this course as it helps you to identify and address something that can’t be easily seen, unless potentially, you have the tools taught during the course, to assist you.
For parents to have the tools to be able to have a conversation with their child or their child’s friend about mental health or something that may be bothering them, is really important, especially as they start to move away from family being the key feature in their life and the main source of information and begin to rely more heavily on other sources of information, or as lots of adolescents do, they stop communicating all together and just grunt!
The course is promoted as “teaching adults, including parents and carers, how to assist adolescents who are developing a mental illness or are in a mental health crisis”. I think this sends the wrong message and could potentially stop some parents from attending as they believe they do not have an issue and therefore the course is not relevant. I have passed this comment onto the presenters also.
The course needs to be presented as a preventative tool rather than a reactionary tool.
I recommend parents ‘get in early’ to be on the front foot and be informed and aware, rather than only attending once it is perhaps too late.
Thanks so much Sue for sharing your experiences with us.
More information about the program and others like it can be found at the Live4Life website.