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To evaluate the scope and results of MHSS training

Increased mental health literacy in rural communities may help to overcome some of the considerable challenges that Australians in rural areas face when trying to receive mental health treatments. In this study, the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program’s brief training courses in Mental Health Support Skills (MHSS) are evaluated (RAMHP). MHSS was created to increase the ability of gatekeepers and community members to recognise those who may have mental health issues and connect them with the proper options or treatments.

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Methods

To evaluate the scope and results of MHSS training, programme data from April 2017 to March 2020 were analysed. A post-training survey that was completed right after the courses and a follow-up survey that was completed two months later were used to get feedback on the training. The geographical and racial demographic reach of the courses were tracked via an app used by RAMHP coordinators (the trainers).

Results

10,208 people in rural New South Wales received MHSS services. In the post-training survey, 49% of respondents (n = 4,985) and in the follow-up survey, 6% of respondents (n = 571) participated. The majority of responders (91%–95%) expressed satisfaction with the training’s impact on their awareness of mental health and readiness to help others. Respondents to the follow-up survey used what they had learned to help others; 53% (n = 301) did this by asking a total of 2,252 persons about their mental health in the two months after training. In contrast to those in nonclinical professions, those in clinical roles inquired a median of six people about their mental health. In the two months following training, the majority of respondents to the follow-up survey (59%, n = 339) said they took better care of their own mental health.

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