Much-needed resources for health professionals in drought and bushfire-affected communities

  • Mental Health Training for health professionals-Draught and bush fire affected areas. CRANAplus improving remote health. Bush ambulance at sunset
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Health professionals working in drought and bushfire-affected areas are encouraged to access a range of new freely available resources developed by CRANAplus to support mental health and wellbeing.

The resources include 12 webinars and four podcasts which focus on topics like understanding the effects of trauma, simple psychological interventions for individuals impacted by disaster and trauma, and health, wellbeing and self-care strategies. There’s also a five-part series by the Seedling Group, an Indigenous group who deliver training around culturally safe, trauma-informed practice and care.  

“The social and emotional impact of the Australian drought and bushfire crisis is far-reaching,” said CRANAplus National Project Manager Kristy Hill.

“Initial findings indicate there is a high need for support six months down the track after the 2019/20 summer bushfires.

“Health professionals, as the cornerstone of community support, are experiencing increased demand and a complex workload. It is important that the mental health of these workers be at the forefront of our mind at this time and we encourage all these health professionals to access these resources and other supports.”

Ms Hill said the resources have been well-received, with feedback indicating they are a ‘much-needed resource’.

 “The webinars, podcast and resources are free and open to anyone.”

Key experts in the field of disaster recovery and mental health have been engaged in the production of the resources, which can be accessed via the CRANAplus website.

Webinars

  • Drought and fires and mental health - what can I do?
  • Understanding the disruption of drought and bushfires
  • Where the rubber hits the road
  • Looking through a cultural and trauma lens
  • Waiting for the rains
  • What does it look like when the river runs dry?
  • Nurturing country to prepare for healing
  • Heal thyself, know your limits
  • Simple psychological interventions for individuals impacted by disaster and trauma
  • Health, wellbeing and self-care strategies for healthcare professionals in drought and bushfire affected communities
  • How to have challenging conversations for rural health professionals
  • Positive psychology tools for rural health professionals

Podcasts

  • Sleep well
  • Identifying trauma reactions in children in bushfire affected communities
  • Resilience; and
  • Staying well as rural health professionals supporting your drought and bushfire affected community

CRANAplus is now focusing its attention on delivering face-to-face local workshops to health professionals. The workshops are tailored to meet local needs and aim to support the social and emotional wellbeing of health professionals, and enable health professionals to better support the mental health of community members impacted by drought and bushfire.

Lead clinician for the project, Cath Walker, is a psychologist and previous registered general nurse and has over 30 years’ experience, working in regional and remote health in Australia.

Cath has been working with Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria following the Gippsland fires. She has been talking with many rural and regional health professionals to understand their situation and how the project and these workshops can best support them.

“Health professionals are really appreciative of the opportunity to work with CRANAplus to have local workshops that reflect their specific personal and professional needs” said Cath.

Some are focusing on the need for mental health skills to assess and assist community members struggling in the recovery process. Others sense the need for practical training in self care for themselves and colleagues due to the relentless demands of living and working under prolonged stress.

As a result of these consultations, training content is currently being delivered across four key areas:

  • Effects of disaster, long term stress, common reactions and helpful responses
  • Potential for secondary trauma and burnout in health professionals and other carers
  • Resilience and self-care strategies to reduce the potential long-term effect on personal health and wellbeing
  • Increasing confidence with conversation about mental health using basic listening, counselling and communication skills.

“We look forward to offering another level of support in communities by providing these tailored workshops to support health professionals in drought and bushfire affected areas,” said Ms Hill.

If you are a health professional in an area affected by drought and/or bushfires and would be interested in a workshop in your area, please contact National Project Manager Kristy Hill at kristy@crana.org.au. To access any of the resources, visit www.crana.org.au.

This project has been made possible through a grant from the Commonwealth Department of Health.

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