Mental health course puts employees first
An innovative mental health and wellbeing program is being rolled out at Goodstart Early Learning with centre directors, specialist support teams and area managers from throughout Australia taking part.
The Mental Health First Aid course, facilitated by health fund Bupa, aims to ensure Goodstart’s leaders have the skills and experience to successfully manage their teams and provide help and support to their employees and families.
Goodstart’s national safe work and wellbeing manager Kylie Warren-Wright said the course also aimed to show educators they have the support of their managers in every facet of their work journey.
Western Australia was the first state to pilot the course with all other states now at various stages of completion. So far, 120 people have taken part and more than 800 employees will participate this year.
Ms Warren-Wright said it was fantastic to see everyone contributing to wellbeing professional development at Goodstart.
“These courses encourage the important conversation around mental health and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of this as this qualification gets delivered to every centre director, area manager and specialist support teams during the next six to eight months,” Ms Warren-Wright said.
“We’re already hearing some great stories about our trained employees being able to offer support to our employees and families.”
Goodstart Clayfield centre director Emma Bowles said she had completed her training in the past two months, giving her the confidence to reach out to those in need.
“I think the main key message that I took from the training was that there is a difference between mental health and mental illness and that there are times when it’s appropriate to refer people on to other support groups,” Ms Bowles said.
“We’re not qualified to help people with a mental illness but we did learn about strategies to support them and support services we can refer them to.”
Ms Bowles said the training had also enabled her to discuss issues and topics with her fellow educators that she may not normally have addressed.
“We practised a lot of those difficult conversations during the training and that’s made me feel a lot more confident.”
Goodstart Bentleigh East - South Road centre director Brittany Patford said through her GoodFuture Victorian Buddy Campus work, she discovered overall mental health and wellbeing was something families needed help with.
“With the support of my campus and many other people, I enrolled in a Mental Health First Aid course,” Ms Patford said.
“I am so very proud that I am now a fully certified Mental Health First Aid instructor. This certificate enables me to teach other individuals about Mental Health First Aid, hopefully raising awareness and understanding for everyone,” she said.
“While the training was intense, I thoroughly enjoyed it and believe I’m a better centre director because of it.”
Mindarie centre director Ashleigh Bligh said her training has helped her reach out to a parent at her centre, allowing her to set up a support network.
“A parent opened up to me in the office and we had a huge chat together. I created a support network for her with contact details of places in Western Australia, along with the support within the centre at any time.
“This is a parent that is in a very quiet and isolated part of WA. We will be touching base each week,” Ms Bligh said.
Ms Warren-Wright said the goal at the end of the year was to be eligible for certification with the Mental Health Association of Australia as a skilled workplace.
The Mental Health First Aid Skilled Workplace Program celebrates organisations across Australia who not only invest in developing mental health first aid skills in their people, but also show a strong commitment to embedding the program into their organisation’s culture; through actions like senior leadership support, relevant policies, supporting Mental Health First Aid Officers and continuous improvement.