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Members of the community in the Gulf Savannah Region of North Queensland learnt what to do in a mental health emergency as part of a Mental Health First Aid training course held in Georgetown.

Frontier Services Savannah Regional Health Service organised the two-day training program conducted by Mental Illness Fellowship North Queensland (MIFNQ).

Philippa Harris, from MIFNQ, who led the training, said learning Mental Health First Aid was just as important as regular First Aid.

“We are actually more likely to come across someone experiencing a mental health problem than a physical health problem,” she said. “Statistics show one in five people experience a mental health issue every year.”

With the financial and emotional impact of fire, floods and drought affecting people in the region, the training was particularly important for the communities of the Etheridge and Croydon Shires.

“It has been a pretty difficult time and a lot of people are stressed. Ongoing stress is a risk to our physical and mental health, so it is important that we recognise when people are struggling with mental health issues.”

“Early recognition of these issues is very important to make sure people can recover as soon as possible.”

The training took participants through the different types of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, psychosis and eating disorders.

“We teach people how to identify and support someone who might be developing a mental health issue and where to go for professional help.”

“We also look at what to do in a crisis situation and take them through a number of different scenarios, what they should do, who to involve and what they will be thinking. It gives people the opportunity to feel confident, knowing they’ve been through the training and they know what to do.”

Savannah Regional Health Service Primary Health Care Nurse Anna Burley said training people in Mental Health First Aid was a big help to health services in addressing mental health.

“It creates an extra set of eyes for health services as more people are able to identify when a mental health issue is emerging,” said Ms Burley.

This is the fourth time the training has been conducted in the Savannah region.

Acknowledgement of Country

Frontier Services acknowledges the sovereign First Peoples on whose lands and waters we live, meet, and work.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and to all descendants of these Nations who have cared for this place since Creation.