EDUCATION and awareness were two of the main aims of a mental health first-aid training course run in Bathurst this week.
Not-for-profit mental health and wellbeing organisation Neami National ran the course, which brought together people from a number of walks of life.
Neami's senior practice leader for suicide prevention, Gabby Pawley, who is also a nurse and paramedic, said the course, which will also be held in other parts of the Central West and Far West, is part of a suicide prevention program.
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"We're trying to create education and awareness in as many communities as we can, just to help change the stigma of mental health," she said.
"And to get that conversation out into our communities, we've extended the invite to absolutely everybody - so there's teachers, there's people in the healthcare industry, people from mining towns, people in finance and, really, anybody.
"We've had COVID, we've had floods, we've had bushfires, we've had so many things that impact our communities and obviously mental [ill] health is increasing.
"We're just trying to change the stigma and change the conversation and get people educated and aware and talking to try to intervene before it's too late."
Ms Pawley said she had seen firsthand, as a nurse and paramedic, how poor mental health affected people.
"And if there's things that we can do to change it, I think that we all need to get involved and everybody needs to help everybody to change these statistics," she said.
She said the two-day course, held at The Greens on William, covered signs and symptoms for prevalent mental health conditions and what to do in a crisis situation and a non-crisis situation.
"[It covers] how to have the conversation, what services are available, and just identifying barriers; what we can do to change it," she said.
"Just about having that safe conversation, recognising somebody isn't okay - feeling comfortable enough to say, hey, I noticed you haven't really been yourself lately, is everything all right? - all the way through to a genuine crisis where you know that it's not okay and how you can help that person."
Ms Pawley said the ambition isn't for those completing the two-day course to walk away "being mental health psychiatrists or psychologists", but to provide an in-depth education on common mental health disorders "and what we can do as a friend or as a work colleague or as somebody just generally in the community to make sure they're going to be okay and they get the right help".
Ms Pawley said Neami National's suicide prevention program is funded by the Primary Health Network.
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