Red Cross Zone three representative Judith Jackson.
Red Cross Zone three representative Judith Jackson.

New scheme to help seniors with mental health

COFFS Harbour seniors and those working with older people are set to be part of a new Older Persons Mental Health First Aid Training scheme being launched across the North Coast.

State member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser announced the $30,000 scheme which will see the Australian Red Cross Society deliver the training along the Coast and specifically In Coffs Harbour.

Red Cross Country Zone Three Northern NSW zone representative Judith Jackson said the training will help with existing programs.

"Local Members and Volunteers who complete the Older Persons Mental Health First Aid Training will use knowledge gained to enhance programs already operating, achieve further goals towards better mental health and be a catalyst for older people in seeking professional help if needed," she said.

"Training will help to remove the stigma around mental health issues and enable the promotion of good mental health and well being.

"Red Cross Members and Volunteers work from a socially inclusive approach to promote participation of seniors in their local community.

"Examples of this are the Woolgoolga Red Cross Branch monthly Friendship Afternoon Tea (FAT) and the Hands On Program."

Judy said FAT was a boost for both the members and those who attended the afternoon tea - and who sometimes struggled to feel valued.

"This gives them a regular purpose and a great sense of achievement in a meaningful and positive way in a happy and safe environment," she explained.

"The Hands On Program at the local aged care facility, provides companionship, emotional support, nail care and hand and arm massage for residents.

"Volunteers work in partnership with the facility to best meet the needs of the clients to engender feelings of wellbeing and friendship through physical contact and constancy; they also provide an important contact with the outside world for residents who may not have many visitors."

"The volunteers at the Village bring warmth, company and a special contact outside the usual confines of the facility therefore improving the mental health and well being of clients.  "

She said Older Persons Mental Health First Aid Training would boost the capability of improving social and emotional health and wellbeing within the aged community.

"Participants will learn to recognise that mental health is a state of well being," she said.

"It is not just the absence of illness, but also the ability to maintain relationships, cope with stress, contribute to the community and enjoy life."

Older Person Mental Health First Aid training is expected to commence from October, with successful organisations promoting the training and taking registrations in their delivery regions.

If you or someone you know needs crisis support, please phone Lifeline on 131114.

For more information on where to find mental health services in your community, contact the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800011511, You can also go to redcross.org.au.


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