Mental Health First Aid for RCS Students

Over the last two weekends, 22nd-23rd of March and 29th-30th of March, in both Ballarat and Shepparton, Rural Clinical School students studying at sites all over the state attended Mental Health First Aid courses. The course taught how to assist both peers and patients who might be developing a mental health problem or crisis. We learned about the signs and symptoms of the common and disabling mental health problems, how to give initial help, where and how to get professional help, what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective, and how to provide first aid in a crisis situation.

Covered during the course were topics including: depression, anxiety problems, psychosis, substance abuse, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and behaviour, non-suicidal self-injury, panic attacks, and traumatic events. To supplement the content learned over the weekend, students who attended the courses also received accompanying Mental Health First Aid booklets, which I know will be a useful resource as we continue our studies of mental health.

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Particularly as an Extended Rural Cohort (ERC) student, I particularly found many of the topics covered to be very useful in my interactions with patients in general practice with mental health issues. Most of my knowledge up to this point centred around the issues of inpatients to psychiatric units of tertiary centres, but this course particularly helped me understand mental health in situations which are more everyday. I’m sure that I will continue to use the techniques and understanding gained from the mental health first aid course for many years to come.

- Robert Holian, IT Officer

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