LivingWorks wants new mental health strategy for children to include parents, carers
Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt is expected to outline the detail of a newly launched national mental health strategy for children and young people today, prompting calls from LivingWorks, international provider of suicide prevention training to call for investment in training “all of those who care for our children”.
“We know that mental health conditions in adulthood often emerge in childhood. We also know that too many Australians are reluctant to ask for help and, tragically, children as young as eight years old are attempting to take their own lives.
What this tells us is that as well as raising the mental health literacy and fostering earlier social emotional wellbeing of our young people, we must complement this with evidence-based suicide first aid training options for parents and carers,” said LivingWorks Australia Director, Shayne Connell.
Mr Connell has a background in psychology, and 20 years experience in suicide prevention and training, but it is in his role as a father where he believes requires “mandatory training” when it comes to the mental health of his children and their friends.
“We have standard training programs in place for people to learn physical first aid skills and this knowledge has saved countless lives. However, not many people realise that in Australia you are far more likely to come into contact with someone thinking about suicide than someone in cardiac arrest. For our youngest and most vulnerable, every Australian adult has a responsibility to educate themselves in how to best support them in their greatest time of need,” he noted.
LivingWorks has provided a variety of intervention trainings through programs such as ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and safeTALK since 1983. LivingWorks training is provided across Australia, including the safeTALK in Schools program, the Australian Defence Force suicide prevention strategy, Lifeline Australia and various Universities and community organisations.
The ASIST program, lessons from which have informed development of LivingWorks Start, has more than 30 published peer-reviewed studies of the impact of the training.
Last month, LivingWorks introduced LivingWorks Start, their first online program. “Learnable in as little as one hour from any computer or mobile device, LivingWorks Start empowers everyone to play a role in saving lives from suicide,” Mr Hunt said.
The Be You program, tailored specifically to providing educators with knowledge, resources and strategies for helping children and young people to achieve their best possible mental health, is available here.