Youth mental health first aid: a description of the program and an initial evaluation

International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2011, 5:4doi:10.1186/17524458-5-4 Published: 27 January 2011

This article describes the Youth Mental Health First Aid program. The program was evaluated in two ways. The first was an uncontrolled trial with 246 adult members of the Australian public, who completed questionnaires immediately before attending the 14 hour course, one month later and six months later. Outcome measures were: recognition of schizophrenia or depression; intention to offer and confidence in offering assistance; stigmatising attitudes; knowledge about adolescent mental health problems and also about the Mental Health First Aid action plan. The second method of evaluation was to track the uptake of the program, including the number of instructors trained across Australia to deliver the course, the number of courses they delivered, and the uptake of the YMHFA Program in other countries.

Concerns for mental health of farmers

Mental health expert and 2010 Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, has visited the town of Theodore in central Queensland's Dawson Valley to help cotton farmers deal with the mental toll of the floods.

The chairman of Cotton Australia, Andrew Watson, said there was a specific short-term need for counselling in the Theodore community to help people deal with the grief of losing homes and farms, and that financial pressures would be an ongoing issue.

Caring for Older Australians : Submissions invited

The Productivity Commission draft report Caring for Older Australians identifies a number of weaknesses in the aged care system. While over one million older people receive aged care services, the system is difficult to navigate, there are gaps in service coverage, user charges are inconsistent and inequitable, and the workforce is under pressure. The Commission is proposing a wide-ranging package of reforms to address these issues, including a much simpler, single gateway into aged care.

The Commission's proposed reforms would free up the system by removing limits on care packages and residential bed numbers, and distinctions between low, high and extra service residential care, but quality standards would remain.Providers would be operating in a competitive market and would need to be more responsive to their clients. They would have to offer an accommodation charge that reflected costs and limit bond values to the equivalent of that charge. Older people would contribute to the cost of their care according to their financial capacity to do so, and be protected by a lifetime limit on care cocontributions. They would also be responsible for their accommodation and living expenses, with safety nets for those with limited means.

The draft report canvasses a number of other reforms aimed at assisting older people with special needs, as well as the families and other carers of older people. Improved working environments and more competitive wages would help ensure that there are sufficient well-trained nurses and carers for the growing numbers of older Australians.

Interested parties are invited to make submissions to the Commission by Monday 21 March, 2011 (See : for details) or attend the scheduled public hearings.

Key points summary

Media release

Mixed response to aged care report (ABC News)

Chronic Care for Aboriginal People Model of Care

The Chronic Care for Aboriginal People Model of Care is a new step-by-step guide for health professionals treating Aboriginal people with chronic conditions.

The purpose of this document is to highlight the significance in prevention and treatment of chronic disease in Aboriginal families. More importantly the aim is to bring to light the need to move from a traditional approach in health care to a model that considers Aboriginal people have very different needs to improve their health. For Aboriginal people, health is defined as, "not just the physical well being of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of their Community. It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life - death - life."

Free DVDs for rural health professionals

The Rural Health Education Foundation has made available more of its excellent DVD series for free distribution. Amongst the programs recently made available are the following :

* 1104 Gynaecological cancers : Psychological care

* 1106 Endometrial cancer : Investigation and appropriate referral

* 1015 The discomfort zone : a guide to managing difficult consultations

* 1012 Obesity : a heavy burden

To order complete the order form.

Webliography of evidence-based health resources

The Cochrane Collaboration has compiled this handy website which includes an alphabetical list of evidence-based resources such as databases and journals, or you can browse the recommendations for books, articles and online resources by speciality area (eg. epidemiology, statistics, literature appraisal, reporting guidelines etc). This "Webliography" also includes links to tutorials and tools on evidence-based care, patient resources and social networking sites.

Top health reports of 2010

The influential policy website APO Online has identified the 5 most-read health reports of 2010.

For full-text click on the report title on the link page below

1. Primary health care reform in Australia Department of Health and Ageing

2. Black Saturday: the immediate impact of the February 2009 bushfires in Victoria, Australia Peter A. Cameron, and others | Medical Journal of Australia

3. Health policy in Australia (2005)Gwen Gray | Australian National University

4. Secondary students and sexual health 2008 (2009)Anthony Smith | Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society

5. A National Health and Hospitals Network for Australia's future Department of Health and Ageing

Top Indigenous reports 2010

The influential policy website APO Online has identified the 5 most-read indigenous reports of 2010. Their top choice "8 Aboriginal ways of learning" was also the most read report on the GWAHS Libraries Blog for 2010

For full-text click on the report title on the link page below

Top Indigenous reports 2010 Australian Policy Online

The five most read reports, websites and commentary pieces in the Indigenous issues area in 2010 were:

1. 8 Aboriginal ways of learning
James Cook University's School of Indigenous Studies and the Western New South Wales Regional Aboriginal Education Team

2. Closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage
Sarah Wenham, Lesley Russell | Menzies Centre for Health Policy

3. Aboriginal spirituality: Aboriginal philosophy, the basis of Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing
Vicki Grieves | Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health

4. Indigenous education 2010
Helen Hughes, Mark Hughes | Centre for Independent Studies

5. Framework for measuring wellbeing: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 2010
Australian Bureau of Statistics

Facebook and Twitter tackle flood disasters.

If, like me, you sometimes wonder what exactly social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are actually good for, the catastrophic Queensland floods have allowed social networking to show its real mettle.

In the incredibly fast-moving disaster scenarios of the last month, evidence is emerging that social networking proved remarkably effective in distributing information which was changing by the minute.

Isolated residents of Theodore established a Facebook site which enabled outlying residents to advise their situation, share photos, and even call for volunteers. This page now supports a recovery site, Theodore Rebuilds. Residents are also following several flood update accounts on Twitter. Many other towns have followed Theodore's lead.

Health Care Social Media Australia and New Zealand is a Twitter discussion group on the issues of social media in healthcare. In a recent Tweet-Up by the group Queensland Police praised the effectiveness of Twitter in reaching those cut-off by floods.[See story and links at]

Most health services do not have direct access to social networking sites, but the potential to disseminate information and save lives in emergency situations, has rarely been demonstrated better than in the last month.

Infections in pregnancy

A BJOG theme issue entitled "Infections in pregnancy" is freely available online until March 31. The articles in this special issue of BJOG highlight significant viral, bacterial and microbial infections that complicate pregnancy. The way each one causes damage, and how mothers and fetuses respond (or sometimes fail to respond) is described. Prevention and treatment strategies that are currently available, and priorities for future research, are presented in reviews, commentaries and original research articles.

Gateways to Evidence that MatterS' (GEMS)

The aim of Gateways to Evidence that MatterS (GEMS) is to provide a summary of recent, Australian and international research concerning children (aged 0-18 years) of parents with a mental illness, their parents and families. While research in this area is growing, there is a lack of evidence based practice when working with families affected by parental mental illness. GEMS is part of Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) which provides information for family members across Australia where a parent has a mental illness and for people who care for and work with them.

Deaths in custody in Australia: national deaths in custody program 2008

This report analyses deaths occurring in custodial settings, such as prison and juvenile detention, as well as police custody and related operations, for the period 1980 to 2008.

Indigenous deaths in both prison and police custody have been decreasing for the past decade; while non-Indigenous deaths have generally been declining, but have been on the rise since 2006. In 2008, the ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous deaths in police custody and custody-related operations dropped to one in eight. There was also a lower proportion of Indigenous deaths in prison than would be expected, based on the percentage of Indigenous people imprisoned. Indigenous people are no more likely to die in custody than non-Indigenous people.

Australian health expenditure by remoteness: a comparison of rural, regional and city health expenditure (AIHW)

Australian health expenditure by remoteness: a comparison of rural, regional and city health expenditure looks at selected health services for the financial years 2001-02, 2004-05 and 2006-07 and examines the way these services were delivered across Australia. This analysis was performed using the Australian Standard Geographical Classification System to compare the expenditure and usage rates of the health services by residents of Major Cities, Inner Regional, Outer Regional, Remote and Very Remote areas of Australia.

The report reveals some clear trends. Use of specialists and GPs is lower in rural areas, while the per person expenditure on allied health professional services is only 8% of that for city residents. The per capita expenditure for hospital admissions conversely increases markedly with the degree of the remoteness of the patient's residence.

While these results are probably readily explainable in terms of the difficulty of access to GPs, allied health practitioners and specialists in many rural and remote areas, the report highlights clear differences in the urban vs rural delivery of health services.

Survey says rural communities drink because there's nothing better to do

Boredom is a major factor driving people to drink alcohol in regional Australian centres like Orange, a survey has revealed. Almost one in four people in regional areas admitted to being unable to go for longer than a week without drinking, saying there was a lack of fun alternative activities. This compares to only 10 per cent of those living in the city. Lyndon Community addiction physician Dr Rod MacQueen said boredom was an excuse that many people in Orange used for underlying drinking problems.