Psychiatry - Research Publications

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    Mental health first aid for Indigenous Australians: using Delphi consensus studies to develop guidelines for culturally appropriate responses to mental health problems
    Hart, LM ; Jorm, AF ; Kanowski, LG ; Kelly, CM ; Langlands, RL (BMC, 2009-08-03)
    BACKGROUND: Ethnic minority groups are under-represented in mental health care services because of barriers such as poor mental health literacy. In 2007, the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program implemented a cultural adaptation of its first aid course to improve the capacity of Indigenous Australians to recognise and respond to mental health issues within their own communities. It became apparent that the content of this training would be improved by the development of best practice guidelines. This research aimed to develop culturally appropriate guidelines for providing first aid to an Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is experiencing a mental health crisis or developing a mental illness. METHODS: A panel of Australian Aboriginal people who are experts in Aboriginal mental health, participated in six independent Delphi studies investigating depression, psychosis, suicidal thoughts and behaviours, deliberate self-injury, trauma and loss, and cultural considerations. The panel varied in size across the studies, from 2024 participants. Panellists were presented with statements about possible first aid actions via online questionnaires and were encouraged to suggest additional actions not covered by the survey content. Statements were accepted for inclusion in a guideline if they were endorsed by > or = 90% of panellists as essential or important. Each study developed one guideline from the outcomes of three Delphi questionnaire rounds. At the end of the six Delphi studies, participants were asked to give feedback on the value of the project and their participation experience. RESULTS: From a total of 1,016 statements shown to the panel of experts, 536 statements were endorsed (94 for depression, 151 for psychosis, 52 for suicidal thoughts and behaviours, 53 for deliberate self-injury, 155 for trauma and loss, and 31 for cultural considerations). The methodology and the guidelines themselves were found to be useful and appropriate by the panellists. CONCLUSION: Aboriginal mental health experts were able to reach consensus about culturally appropriate first aid for mental illness. The Delphi consensus method could be useful more generally for consulting Indigenous peoples about culturally appropriate best practice in mental health services.
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    A mental health first aid training program for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: description and initial evaluation.
    Kanowski, LG ; Jorm, AF ; Hart, LM (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2009-06-03)
    BACKGROUND: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training was developed in Australia to teach members of the public how to give initial help to someone developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis situation. However, this type of training requires adaptation for specific cultural groups in the community. This paper describes the adaptation of the program to create an Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid (AMHFA) course and presents an initial evaluation of its uptake and acceptability. METHODS: To evaluate the program, two types of data were collected: (1) quantitative data on uptake of the course (number of Instructors trained and courses subsequently run by these Instructors); (2) qualitative data on strengths, weaknesses and recommendations for the future derived from interviews with program staff and focus groups with Instructors and community participants. RESULTS: 199 Aboriginal people were trained as Instructors in a five day Instructor Training Course. With sufficient time following training, the majority of these Instructors subsequently ran 14-hour AMHFA courses for Aboriginal people in their community. Instructors were more likely to run courses if they had prior teaching experience and if there was post-course contact with one of the Trainers of Instructors. Analysis of qualitative data indicated that the Instructor Training Course and the AMHFA course are culturally appropriate, empowering for Aboriginal people, and provided information that was seen as highly relevant and important in assisting Aboriginal people with a mental illness. There were a number of recommendations for improvements. CONCLUSION: The AMHFA program is culturally appropriate and acceptable to Aboriginal people. Further work is needed to refine the course and to evaluate its impact on help provided to Aboriginal people with mental health problems.
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    Development of mental health first aid guidelines for suicidal ideation and behaviour: A Delphi study
    Kelly, CM ; Jorm, AF ; Kitchener, BA ; Langlands, RL (BMC, 2008-03-18)
    BACKGROUND: Suicide is a statistically rare event, but devastating to those left behind and one of the worst possible outcomes associated with mental illness. Although a friend, family member or co-worker may be the first person to notice that a person is highly distressed, few have the knowledge and skills required to assist. Simple guidelines may help such a person to encourage a suicidal individual to seek professional help or decide against suicide. METHODS: This research was conducted using the Delphi methodology, a method of reaching consensus in a panel of experts. Experts recruited to the panels included 22 professionals, 10 people who had been suicidal in the past and 6 carers of people who had been suicidal in the past. Statements about how to assist someone who is thinking about suicide were sourced through a systematic search of both professional and lay literature. The guidelines were written using the items most consistently endorsed by all three panels. RESULTS: Of 114 statements presented to the panels, 30 were accepted. These statements were used to develop the guidelines appended to this paper. CONCLUSION: There are a number of actions which are considered to be useful for members of the public when they encounter someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or engaging in suicidal behaviour. These guidelines will be useful in revision of curricula of mental health first aid and suicide intervention training programs. They can also be used by members of the public who want immediate information about how to assist a suicidal person.
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    Mental health first aid responses of the public: results from an Australian national survey
    Jorm, AF ; Blewitt, KA ; Griffiths, KM ; Kitchener, BA ; Parslow, RA (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2005-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: The prevalence of mental disorders is so high that members of the public will commonly have contact with someone affected. How they respond to that person (the mental health first aid response) may affect outcomes. However, there is no information on what members of the public might do in such circumstances. METHODS: In a national survey of 3998 Australian adults, respondents were presented with one of four case vignettes and asked what they would do if that person was someone they had known for a long time and cared about. There were four types of vignette: depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, early schizophrenia, and chronic schizophrenia. Verbatim responses to the open-ended question were coded into categories. RESULTS: The most common responses to all vignettes were to encourage professional help-seeking and to listen to and support the person. However, a significant minority did not give these responses. Much less common responses were to assess the problem or risk of harm, to give or seek information, to encourage self-help, or to support the family. Few respondents mentioned contacting a professional on the person's behalf or accompanying them to a professional. First aid responses were generally more appropriate in women, those with less stigmatizing attitudes, and those who correctly identified the disorder in the vignette. CONCLUSIONS: There is room for improving the range of mental health first aid responses in the community. Lack of knowledge of mental disorders and stigmatizing attitudes are important barriers to effective first aid.
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    The impact of employee level and work stress on mental health and GP service use: an analysis of a sample of Australian government employees
    Parslow, RA ; Jorm, AF ; Christensen, H ; Broom, DH ; Strazdins, L ; D'Souza, RM (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2004-09-30)
    BACKGROUND: This study sought to identify the extent to which employee level and work stressors were associated with mental health problems experienced by Australian government employees, and with their use of primary care services. METHODS: 806 government employees aged between 40 and 44 years were surveyed as part of an epidemiological study conducted in Australia. Data collected from participants included sociodemographic attributes, physical health, psychological measures and work stressors relating to job control, job demands, job security and skills discretion at work. For 88% of these participants, information on visits made to general practitioners (GPs) for the six months before and after their survey interview was obtained from health insurance records. RESULTS: When work stress and personal factors were taken into account, men at more junior levels reported better mental health, more positive affect and used fewer GP services. Women at middle-management levels obtained less GP care than their more senior counterparts. Both men and women who reported higher levels of work stress were found to have poorer mental health and well-being. The impact of such stressors on GP service use, however, differed for men and women. CONCLUSION: Measures of work stress and not employee level affect the mental health and well-being of government employees. For governments with responsibility for funding health care services, reducing work stress experienced by their own employees offers potential benefits by improving the health of their workforce and reducing outlays for such services.
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    First aid guidelines for psychosis in Asian countries: A Delphi consensus study
    Jorm, AF ; Minas, H ; Langlands, RL ; Kelly, CM (BioMed Central, 2008-02-21)
    BACKGROUND: Guidelines for how a member of the public should give first aid to a person who is becoming psychotic have been developed for English-speaking countries. However, these guidelines may not be appropriate for use in other cultures. A study was therefore carried out to examine whether it was possible to achieve consensus on guidelines that could apply in a range of Asian countries. METHODS: A Delphi consensus study was carried out with a panel of 28 Asian mental health clinicians drawn from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The panel was given a 211 item questionnaire about possible first aid actions and asked to rate whether they thought these should be included in guidelines. Panel members were invited to propose additional items. RESULTS: After three Delphi rounds, there were 128 items that were rated as "essential" or "important" by 80% or more of the panel members. These items covered: recognition of psychosis, encouraging and assisting the person to seek help, how to interact with the person, responding to acute psychosis, responding to aggression, and what to do if the person refuses to get professional help. CONCLUSION: Despite the diversity of the countries involved, there was consensus on a core set of first aid items that were considered as suitable for assisting a psychotic person. Future work is needed to develop guidelines for specific countries.
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    Development of mental health first aid guidelines for deliberate non-suicidal self-injury: A Delphi study
    Kelly, CM ; Jorm, AF ; Kitchener, BA ; Langlands, RL (BMC, 2008-07-23)
    BACKGROUND: It is estimated that around 4% of the population engages, or has engaged, in deliberate non-suicidal self-injury. In clinical samples, the figures rise as high as 21%. There is also evidence to suggest that these figures may be increasing. A family member or friend may suspect that a person is injuring themselves, but very few people know how to respond if this is the case. Simple first aid guidelines may help members of the public assist people to seek and receive the professional help they require to overcome self-injury. METHODS: This research was conducted using the Delphi methodology, a method of reaching consensus in a panel of experts. Experts recruited to the panels included 26 professionals, 16 people who had engaged in self-injurious behaviour in the past and 3 carers of people who had engaged in self-injurious behaviour in the past. Statements about providing first aid to a person engaged in self-injurious behaviour were sought from the medical and lay literature, but little was found. Panel members were asked to respond to general questions about first aid for NSSI in a variety of domains and statements were extracted from their responses. The guidelines were written using the items most consistently endorsed by the consumer and professional panels. RESULTS: Of 79 statements rated by the panels, 18 were accepted. These statements were used to develop the guidelines appended to this paper. CONCLUSION: There are a number of actions which are considered to be useful for members of the public when they encounter someone who is engaging in deliberate, non-suicidal self-injury. These guidelines will be useful in revising curricula for mental health first aid and NSSI first aid training programs. They can also be used by members of the public who want immediate information about how to assist a person who is engaging in such behaviour.