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RUOK Day - Checking in on mental health + a review of Mental Health First Aid training

By Eliza Woodhouse, Osteopath

You may be familiar with First Aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) qualifications, but have you ever thought about doing Mental Health First Aid training?

In an average year, approximately 20% of Australian adults experience a common mental illness. 2020 has not been an average year, to say the least.

Over the last several months, many within the Australian community have been impacted by fear, anxiety, and panic in response to the coronavirus, COVID-19. In May 2020, the Australian Medical Association released a statement estimating ‘that we are facing a situation where between an extra 750 and 1500 more suicides will occur annually, in addition to the 3000 plus lives that are lost to suicide already every year. Furthermore, this tragically higher rate is likely to persist for up to five years, if the economic downturn lasts more than 12 months’.

Similar to physical First Aid and CPR, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training provides you with the essential knowledge and skillset to be able to support someone showing signs or symptoms of mental ill-health, or experiencing a crisis. Most importantly, you may even use this knowledge to save someone’s life.

Just like 'physical' First Aid and CPR training, the online Mental Health First Aid course involves both theoretical and practical componenets, in the form of self-directed pre-learning and 2 x live virtual classes (via Zoom).

To help raise awareness of the importance of looking after our mental health, I thought I would reflect and share my experience of undertaking online Mental Health First Aid training.

Going into the course, I was naïve to think that I knew a lot about mental health, and how I would assist a loved one, or a friend, during a crisis. I found that while the subjetcs that had covered mental health in uni had provided me with a good understanding of a text book presentation, pathology and the basics of management, when faced with practical scenarios, it was actually quite confronting trying to assist someone in a crisis, particularly someone who had suicidal thoughts. I learnt a lot about myself during the course, and that my greatest fear about approaching someone about their mental health, was the fear of making them feel uncomfortable. But once I had learnt the communication and practical skills to be able to guide this scenario, I gained confidence in my ability to support an indivudual experiencing a crisis, and it felt a lot less daunting. If ever faced with this scenario, thanks to the training, I know that I am capable of providing the appropriate support and at the end of the day, a moment of uncomfortable-ness can save someone’s life.

Overall, I found the course to be very practical in nature. The pre-learning was interesting, and the presenter was supportive and provided a safe space to learn these new skills. I have also found that my new skill set and perspective on mental health, compliments my role as a health care practitioner. I would highly recommend attending a Mental Health First Aid course to everyone, as it will change your views on what you already believe about mental health, and the skills gained from the course will be used in every day life to support, asssist and help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

On that note, today is “R U OK” day. R U OK day is such an important day and a crucial reminder to us all, to take a moment and get in touch with your loved ones, friends or colleagues.

It is completely normal to have fear or discomfort around discussing mental health issues. To make it easier, the R U OK organisation has put together some quick and easy tips for you. Click here to see the R U OK tips for talking about mental health.

If you, or someone you know is struggling will mental ill-health, or having suicidal thoughts, please seek assistance through your Doctor/GP, or any of the reputable sources below:

At Retrain Health, we recognice the intergral link between mental and physical health, and the importance of acknowledging and supporting mental health.

All of our osteopaths and administration team are qualified mental health first aiders and completed their MHFA training with Corporate Healthcare. Corporate Healthcare run MHFA training open to the general public, as well as private and workplace-based training.

The MHFA training is accredited with Mental Health First Aid Australia, and provides participants with a Certificate of Accreditation, which is valid for 3 years.

If you would like to book a course, or find out more information about organising a public, private or workplace based training, please click here and contact Corporate Healthcare to start the conversation.


Retrain Health is based in the Northern Rivers, NSW. From our Byron Bay and Ballina clinics, our team provides a range of quality healthcare services and products.

Retrain Health offers osteopathy, remedial massage and strength and conditioning sessions with qualified practitioners.

If you are interested in finding out more information or would like to book an appointment, please contact the clinic by phone (02) 6680 7447, send us an email or click here to book an appointment online.

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