Authors: Illawarra Institute for Mental Health. Faculty of Health and Behavioural Science, Univeristy of Wollongong
Event: 2000 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: NSW
Award level: Gold
Award category: Mental Illness Prevention Program
Abstract: The Choalhaven region has the seventh highest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders population in New Suth Wales. It has been estimated that the region has an average nnual hospitalisation rate for attempted suicide among Aboriginal people. In response to concerns from within the local Aborignal community about the excalating suicide rate, an ear;y intervention program was developed. Community consultations and "discussion" groups helped to identify local perceptions of presipitating factors to suicide, barriers to help-seeking and ia verity of other components considered importnat for wider dissemination in the community. This information estabished the basis for the design of a servies of "community gatekeeper training" workshops. The project was designed and implemented in a collaborative venture with the NOwra Mantal Health Service, Wollongong University and the Shoalhaven Aboriginal community. Innovative components of the workshops included: involement of key professionals in the mental health helping systems, use of positive and individual "survival maps" for conveying information graphically and providing a take home resource, and evaluation methods which were integrated into the learning goals of the progrtam. Pre-post workshop assessment revealed an increase in participants knowledge about and increase confidence in the ability to identify people who might be suicidal. Description of Facility/Organisation: The Illawarra Insititute for Mental Health is a research and Behavioural Sciences, University of Wollongong; Mental Health Services, Illawarra Area Health Service: Drug, Alcohol and HIV/AIDs Prevention Services, Illawarra Area Health Service. This collaboration has resulted in a rich and dynamic mix of researchers and clinicians from academic and applied service settings. This mix allows research to inform practice and practice to inform research. Whilst theory and 'basic' research are highly valued, the research enphasis of IIMH is on clinically relevant
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