Good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us today for the Department of Health and Aged Care Careers in Mental Health Webinar. My name is Dan Hermens and I'm today's MC.
I'd like to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land in which we meet, I pay my respects to the elders, past, present, and emerging. And I extend that respect to First Nations people here today.
This webinar will be recorded and made available on the department's website.
Just some information about me. I am Professor of Youth Mental Health and Neurobiology at the University of the Sunshine Coast Thompson Institute, which is a research centre dedicated to better understanding and treating some of Australia's most pressing mental health problems.
My own research focuses on adolescent brain development and how this relates to the onset and trajectory of mental disorders in youth.
I'm also the Program Coordinator of the Mental Health and Neuroscience Postgraduate Degrees, which all involve self-paced and online courses created and taught by clinical and research experts.
These courses are designed to expand career horizons and they are applicable to a wide range of fields including education, mental health, policy and government, working with vulnerable people, supporting young people, high degrees in research and much more.
As I'm sure you would agree, the topic of mental health is becoming increasingly relevant no matter what field you're in. The mental health sector is experiencing significant demand for all professions and mental health workers plays a crucial role in ensuring this sustainability of the national mental health system.
Unfortunately, mental health problems are on the rise. As an indicator of this in 2008, major depressive disorder was ranked in as the 1/3 leading cause of disability worldwide and in 2019 it was ranked number two.
The World Health Organization has projected that major depression will be the leading cause of disability by 2030. The 2020-21 National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that 15% of Australians aged 16 to 85 years experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. Notably, 40% of younger Australians that is those aged 16 to 24 years had a mental disorder in the past 12 months, the highest in any age group. And this is an increase by 50% since the last national survey in 2007. We need a new vision for the future of mental health care to address these rising problems and there is a great need for an increased workforce to support this.
Today we delve into different roles, career opportunities, challenges and rewarding nature of working in the mental health sector, and hopefully help you to consider a career in mental health. We have an exciting line up for you today featuring three guest speakers who have already made significant contributions to the mental health sector.
In the first part of the webinar, one by one, our guests will describe their career paths to date and share their valuable insights and experiences. This webinar presents an excellent opportunity for you to find out more. So, if you have any questions for our guests or general inquiries, please post them in the chat.
In your questions, please indicate the name of the guest speaker you are directing your question to, or state if it's a general inquiry. And we'll then address these questions during the Q and A session in the second 1/2 of the webinar. So now it's my great pleasure to introduce our first speaker.
Alison Hansen is a mental health nurse and senior lecturer at Monash and a current PhD candidate at University of Newcastle.
Let's kick things off. I've got a question for you, Alison. Can you please start by briefly telling us about your career pathway? What got you to where you are now?
Sure, so a little bit about me first. I'm a credential mental health nurse and a senior lecturer at Monash Uni and I'm currently the Stream Lead of the Master of Advanced Clinical Nursing Degree at Monash as well.
So, a little bit about how I got to where I am now. I undertook a Bachelor of Nursing Degree in a regional university in Victoria. And then after I completed that, I enrolled in a graduate program, and I enrolled in a graduate program in the area of forensic mental health. And so forensic mental health is I guess at the intersection of the mental health system and the criminal justice system.
So, I worked with people with mental health conditions or disorders but also had or were involved in the criminal justice system in some way. And then when I was undertaking my graduate program, I also commenced a post-graduate diploma and then stuck with that and continued and completed my Master of Nursing, majoring in mental health. Have I missed part of your question, Dan?
No, you haven't. It was about your career pathway.
Set the scene really in terms of where you're at now. Maybe I'll have some questions a little bit more about educational pathway. I might move on to the next one.
What does a typical day in your profession look like?
Yeah, so I'm not working clinically anymore, but still engaged in the clinical, I guess environment in the sense that I'm teaching mental health content here at Monash and undertaking my PhD. And so, at the moment I have a leadership position at Monash and so I support teaching and learning practice in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. And that's really to ensure that students have a really positive experience while they're undertaking their Bachelor of Nursing or their Master of Nursing Practice and support really good outcomes for students and help them, I guess, decide and guide them in terms of what area of nursing they want to go into. And my focus is really around mental health nursing practice.
And so, a part of my role as well is being the Mental Health Stream Lead at Monash and something that I spend a lot of my day doing at the moment we're redeveloping the Master of Mental Health Nursing and we're working with consumers and carers with a lived experience of mental health services to redevelop that program to support really contemporary mental health practice that filters down to the clinical environment to support good outcomes for the people that we work with in the area of mental health.
Thank you. My next question is this, why did you choose this career path? Or has it chosen you? Why did you choose this role? It sounds like you have multiple roles. Yeah, why? Tell us why.
Yeah, absolutely. So, I always had a really strong and still do have a really strong interest in mental health nursing. I found general mental health or general nursing, sorry, to be very task oriented. Whereas mental health nursing is more focused on developing really good therapeutic relationships with people and working in a holistic way to support their recovery and to support good outcomes for them depending on what that is for the person and across a number of areas of their lives. So was able to work with people not only on their mental health but also their physical health, their social wellbeing and general day to day kind of stuff. I got a real kick out of that as opposed to, yeah, general nursing, it's a better opportunity to be able to work really closely with people.
Thank you. Well, now the question about educational pathways. So, you've touched on it now, but yeah, tell us a bit about the different studies and qualifications you've acquired, collected over the years.
Yeah, so like I said, Bachelor of Nursing, which is the foundational kind of degree for nursing. And then you can also go into mental health nursing from that. So, I did a Master's Degree in Advanced Nursing Practice and focused on mental health because that was the area that I was really interested in. And then I kind of wanted to move into academia because I really enjoyed supporting Bachelor of Nursing students on placement and sort of got into academia through that pathway and then started my PhD when I was working at a university in Sydney.
And so, I'm still enrolled in my PhD doing that part-time. I also mentioned I'm a credentialed mental health nurse, and so what that means is that I've been recognized by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses to have expertise in the area of mental health nursing. So, I can say that that's my area of specialty. Nursing registration now is just general registered nurse. And so having that credentialed status kind of allows you to tell kind of the world and your employer that you are a mental health nurse.
Great, thank you. Tough question. What might be your career highlights?
Oh, that is a really tough question. Probably my career highlights at the moment is being able to work with people when they've been at their most vulnerable. So, they are unwell, they're involved in the criminal justice system in some way, but then being able to support them to be more stable in their life and with their mental health and being able to support them to be discharged and leave the hospital.
Obviously, it's great if we never see people again. That's good to see the back of people, but it's really nice to be able to work really closely with people throughout that time.
And certainly, my career highlight now in the education space is being able to support really novice nurses in being able to jump into the mental health pathway and supporting students in their bachelor's degree, understand what nursing is all about and where their career can take them.
Maybe this relates, well, a bit of a follow-on question. What are some of the challenges that you've encountered in your role?
Yeah, so I have encountered challenges throughout my role. Mental health is by nature, it can be a challenging area to work in and certainly forensic mental health is as well.
But I think the best way that you can kind of navigate those challenges is that, or to understand, I guess, that you're always really supported in a nursing environment. You're never really by yourself. You work really closely with a team. And so, the team always
helps you and the others in that group navigate some of those challenges. And certainly, support is a big part of mental health nursing practice, as is kind of debriefing sessions post a challenging or a challenging situation or events.
And certainly, in mental health nursing we're really big on promoting and staff engaging in clinical supervision as well, which helps you kind of work through some of that.
Great. What are some of the most rewarding or best parts of working in the mental health sector?
Definitely being able to work with people that you would never have met before. People from all walks of life, so to speak. Different backgrounds, people from different countries, people experiencing stuff that you haven't experienced before and being able to support them and seeing the back of them eventually when you do kind of get to discharge people.
We are almost out of time, I'm going to sneak in this one question,
Any tips for others thinking about a career as a mental health nurse? Any personal insights that you'd mention?
Yeah, absolutely. I would say talk to people in the area of mental health nursing, if that's what you're interested in. Certainly, head along to open days and stuff and talk to the people on the ground there, have a conversation, reach out to people, pick up the phone, kind of give them a call. Also, if you know you're new and you're thinking about going in and enrolling in a Bachelor of Nursing, talk to your lecturers as well that are there is probably my biggest tip for people thinking about jumping into mental health nursing.
Thanks so much Alison. I'm sure there'll be more questions to you later on. We better move on to the next speaker. Thank you again.
And next I'd like to introduce Iqra Sy, who is an Applied Behaviour Analyst and ABA Therapist, a Lifeline volunteer, and a current Bachelor of Psychology at ANU in Canberra.
I'll try to mix up the question. I think you got a gist of what I'm going to say and ask you. Tell us about your career pathway. How did you get to be at this point and obviously like Alison juggling multiple roles?
Yeah, so I started off in the Bachelor of Medical Science actually, and I knew I wanted a career that had a very strong, I could find my purpose in and really help others, but I also wanted that strong interpersonal aspect and I found that by doing a psychology degree and changing degrees into that field, I could get the best of both worlds, that purpose and also that interpersonal aspect.
And so, I really wanted to make an informed decision as well, what is my career going to entail? And that's when I decided to take up my roles as an ABA Therapist and later on, a Lifeline Telephone Crisis Supporter. And I got into ABA by actually speaking to one of my professors and he told me that if I want that hands-on practical
experience of what it is to really be working with others and taking on that their problems and really being enmeshed within it, do ABA therapy and do Lifeline. And that's how I first got into it.
And it was quite easy to get my certificate and diplomas. It took, I think for ABA therapy just a few months and for Lifeline, my internship was around a year, but my training was an intensive 10-week course, so it was very accommodating with university, and I didn't have to hold my degree back to get those roles or anything like that. It was really easy to manage everything at the same time.
Thank you. Well, I guess the next question I have is what does a typical day look like for you? I think it's fascinating that you do ABA therapy and Lifeline at the same time. Tell us a little bit more about what your typical day looks like Iqra.
Yeah, so like you just mentioned, I do have both those roles and I'm also a university student and so my week is pretty, each day in the week is pretty different. Sometimes I'll have class and work at ABA therapy or work and Lifeline or the Union Lifeline, so it's not really consistent, but I think that's what makes it really exciting and every day is a new challenge. I have something different to look forward to.
Yeah, so I guess what a typical shift at Lifeline would look like is going in, making a cup of coffee, making a cup of tea always. And then I guess the day really just depends on the context of the calls.
Some days all my calls will be super positive and I can just blast through them one after the other. And then other days you do have those calls which are a bit more heavy and I need to take longer breaks and have a moment to myself before I get back into the phone room and just get on with it again. And so yeah, the day is very dependent on the context of the calls.
But in saying that I have such a supportive network at Lifeline whenever I have those heavy calls, my supervisors are there for me. They talk through with me and at the end of each shift I get a debrief in which the supervisors just make sure you helped these people today, are you yourself okay? Are you going to walk out of here carrying any baggage with you? Or are you going to be able to go on with the rest of your day feeling fulfilled from the work you just did? And every time I go to Lifeline, it's always a positive experience because no matter what the context of those calls are, I know that I made a difference that day. And yeah, so that would be a typical day at Lifeline.
At ABA therapy, it's also very dependent upon the mood of the child.
Sometimes they're just tired and they don't want to do any of the activities that you set out and sometimes they're super energetic and they want to play around and all those things. So, it's very different. But again, that's what makes it super exciting and super rewarding as well. I don't think I've ever been bored at work.
Thank you. I guess I'm wondering how much your different roles inform each other? So, you're a current psychology student. Do you think about if something you've heard in a lecture that it might apply to something you're doing it as an ABA therapist?
How do these things interrelate?
Definitely they do interrelate. So, there's courses in a psychology degree such as developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience and those types of things. And I can always relate aspects of ABA therapy with those courses that delve into autism and behavioural management as well. And I find that it's kind of comforting to hear your lecturer talk about autism or something and you already know what it is and you just, you do feel very enmeshed within your profession and in the degree.
Similarly, towards the end of my psychology degree, I graduate this year, I've had to do a lot of courses on different personality disorders and those types of things. And I already had experience in Lifeline having that one-on-one interaction with all those people who might have eating disorders or experience with trauma, abuse, whatever it may be. And so, I have the theory through my degree and then I can apply it through my profession.
Cool, thank you. My next question is this, Iqra, you've touched on these already. What are some of the challenges, maybe you can answer these together, challenges of your role and then most rewarding aspects of your role in mental health? Just tell us about a little bit more about some challenges and then also some rewarding aspects. So, what are the best parts of what you do? You've already said some of these things I think, but.
Yeah. Well with Lifeline, it's in the name, Lifeline. And you think at the start I really did think that I was responsible for that person's life and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Oh, I need to know exactly what to say in the right moment. And it can be very stressful and overwhelming and it can stop you from actually taking a step forward and just doing Lifeline or doing the course.
But I've realized through experience that it's not about being perfect, it's just about showing you care about someone. It's just about communicating and showing I'm here for you and I'm supporting you. And I guess that's how I overcame that challenge.
Another challenge is I think in a lot of mental health professions, it's you're going to experience those high intensity emotional states of other people and it's at first difficult not to let it affect you, but I think as you continue, and I found this with myself, I became a lot stronger, I became a lot more patient and tolerant and understanding. And I was able to realize that this person, they're not expressing this aggression or anger towards me, they're just, this is what they're feeling within themselves and they have the opportunity to express it.
And so, I guess what I'm really trying to say is that the more you help others, you grow yourself as a person. And at the start it is very challenging, but you lift yourself up by lifting other people up too.
Wow, very well put. Just my final question, Iqra.
Any, well interrelate couple, it sounds like you've already achieved a lot in your career, but you're also very early stages, what are some tips or personal insights you've gained along the way so far and maybe what do you think you'd be doing in 5 to 10 years time?
Yep. So personal insights, I think that it really pushes you to try to be the best version of yourself. I love working in the psychology field because I feel as though I need to be good mentally, not just for myself, for others as well. And I think that it really teaches you to value yourself and take care of yourself.
And I think that's a good tip for anyone looking for working in the mental health profession, but just everyone in general as well, when you take care of yourself, you can really take care of others. And I think that's great.
Also, another tip is that if you're a university student, you or even a high school student, you have access to so many professors who can really help you. And without, had I not spoken to my professor, I don't think I would've been doing ABA therapy or Lifeline.
Where do I see myself in 5 to 10 years? I really do want to do a Master's in Clinical Psychology so that I can become a psychologist and continue those one-on-one interactions with people that I'm already doing at Lifeline, but just face-to-face.
Great. It's lifelong learning, isn't it?
Thanks Iqra. I'm sure there'll be more questions to come.
So now onto our third guest speaker, Joshua Maudsley. Josh is an Assistant Principal at Sienna Catholic College on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. And just I have to declare a potential conflict of interest. Josh is a student in the Mental Health and Neuroscience Postgraduate Program, which I'm the coordinator of, but I can assure everyone I'm not involved in Josh's assessments. (laughs) But Josh, great to see you again. Welcome to today's webinar.
Thanks Dan. Happy to be here.
So here's my question. I guess you know what it is.
Tell us about your career pathway. Yeah, how did you come to be where you're at now?
Sure. So, when I finished school, I tossed up a couple of ideas and ended up completing my undergraduate degree in psychology. Really enjoyed that. And then following that I completed a graduate diploma in education. So, I started teaching at Sienna where I am now. Absolutely loved it. Was fortunate enough to step into a Head of Year role for a number of years before stepping into my current role as the Assistant Principal. I currently oversee a team of teachers who are sort of also middle leaders with a focus on student wellbeing. And so that's sort of where I'm currently at. And I'm also a Senior Psychology Teacher, so I'm fortunate to sort of get to do two things I love in the classroom.
Thank you, Josh. So, what does a typical day look like for you? You got multiple roles. Yeah, tell us what a day or a week looks like in your world.
Sure. Look, it's always busy in a high school, you never know what the day's going to bring, but essentially, so I work with our Heads of Year who we all are tasked with overseeing student wellbeing and engagement at Sienna. And so that also involves working with a Leader of Learning Services who looks to support diverse learners in the community.
In addition to, we have three fantastic guidance counsellors at Sienna who are psychologists. And so, I sort of oversee the support of the students in our college. So, it is around helping to manage student wellbeing, engaging in the classroom and the wider community with those people who I mentioned, looking at sort of managing challenging behaviour. A lot of the time there is underlying mental health or developmental disorders, which inform some of the behaviours that we deal with.
There's also the time in the classroom with my psychology classes, which I love. And then I guess we look at developing some programs for our young people, really around general wellbeing. We're critically aware that adolescence is the age of onset for a number of mental health conditions in addition to the really low help seeking behaviour that we see.
So, I feel that we're tasked with ensuring that we're supporting the wellbeing of our students and supporting them to engage in help seeking behaviour.
Thank you, Josh. So, the next one is about why. Why did you choose? Yeah, I guess I've asked this question the other way around as well. Did this career path choose you or did you choose it? How did this, yeah, what's the motivation? What's behind where you're at now?
Look, it's sort of, I feel I'm really lucky. I sort of stepped into the psychology background and then education and I've found a way to sort of mirror both.
I've really got a passion for working with young people, particularly around help seeking behaviours and mental health literacy. And so, I guess my desire to work with young people in addition to sort of working with them around mental health conditions and challenging behaviours sort of put me where I am now.
In addition to being able to teach the subject to year 11 and 12 students, it's been fortunate that it's all sort of aligned for me there.
I might throw in the where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years from now question?
What's on the horizon for Joshua Maudsley?
Look, I'd obviously like to finish my study. I'm almost there now, but then I see myself continuing to work with young people, whether it's in a schooling setting or in a clinical setting. I think that's a real passion of mine. So, I wouldn't say too much deviation from my current role, but yeah.
Career highlights. Yeah, could you tell us about some of those?
Sure. I think you're seeing the growth in young people who have mental health challenges. So, we're fortunate in a high school environment. We see kids every day and so you can see, really notice the growth and support.
Some of the students that know we've supported in year seven, seeing them graduate, that's a really special thing, particularly if you've been part of those support teams and have seen some of the challenges that they've had to navigate. I'm also really passionate about overall wellbeing literacy with our young people.
And so, a real career highlight is being able to present workshops and sessions for our students that really focus on sort of age and stage appropriate developmental challenges, looking to enhance overall wellbeing, which we know has an effect on mental health as well.
And so, it's always really satisfying to be able to deliver those, in addition to providing a lot of mental health literacy for our young people, particularly our students who might be anxious, still coping relatively well, but providing that literacy around this is what it is, this is why things are happening. And I guess breaking down some of that stigma as well, which is a real barrier we find for students accessing support.
Great, thank you. My next questions about the challenges that you've encountered in your role. But I might add a twist to this question. Do you think that education departments and schools need to do more on the mental health front?
So what are the challenges as well? Sorry, please.
And I think that's quite interconnected in that the changing nature of schools is quite complex and more and more our roles are becoming more diverse and certainly in our schooling context, we are tasked with not only delivering the curriculum, but the wellbeing of the young people in our care.
And so, I only see it becoming more complex, I suppose, as the rates of mental health increase in young people and the rates of help seeking do not sort of compliment that rise. I think more and more we're tasked with supporting that, providing some literacy around that, opportunities to support families, to access external providers.
I suppose one of the challenges at a school that we face is around the support we provide for our students. So, we've got three registered psychologists on site, but the nature of working with almost 1,000 young people is that they do quite a lot of triage based work. And so, it's juggling the need for that triage as things pop up in addition to the desire, I guess we have to provide that clinical care, but we are not sort of set up to be able to provide that for the hundreds of students that access these people.
And it's about, I guess walking that fine line between working with
families at the school, but also supporting them to access mental health services outside of the school and community. So, it's something that is only gonna get bigger, I would say, but I do see it continuing to be part of the role of education to support the mental health of young people.
Great, thank you. What are some of the most reward, you've touched on these already, perhaps a little bit more about the most rewarding and best parts of working as a teacher, but also in the mental health sector?
Sure. I think as a teacher, certainly being able to provide literacy around wellbeing and mental health and the students that I get to teach is really rewarding. Helping them sort of connect the dots and create their own interest in mental health and neuroscience as well.
I think that's always really important. In addition to seeing some of our students and social support groups start to look after each other as well, we look to build a really safe community here. And so, it's always heartening and great to see when we have students looking after each other or referring on to guidance counsellors or teachers who they trust.
And so, I guess being able to see that we have educators who have really positive connections with the young people that they work with and seeing them see those people as the gatekeepers who can support their mental health or help them access a clinician or guidance counsellor here at school.
How about some personal insights or tips? There might be some people attending this webinar who are thinking about education, better specialization in mental health. What are some of your biggest tips for people considering those pathways?
I think for me, I'm a firm believer in that no student can learn unless they feel safe and valued. And so that's critical that our young people feel safe, supported and their wellbeing is looked after. And we know, and certainly a focus point here is that that is looked after before we access the curriculum.
So, I suppose a tip for me is to understand that wellbeing and engagement are all incredibly linked and that when students are valued and safe, they engage, and they can access the curriculum in an appropriate way.
I suppose in addition is the interconnectedness between behavioural challenges in the class you might see and the underlying aetiologies there. More and more we have students present in our school communities with developmental disorders, which impact on their learning and I suppose we push for our practitioners to have that base understanding of these students how their learning might be a little bit different, how their brains are operating. And because an understanding of that helps some of our neurodiverse students access their curriculum appropriately.
Great. Thank you so much. Thanks Josh. Thanks to Alison, Iqra and Josh for this really great insight into what you do, your passion for these, for your work in these areas. We've got some questions coming in, which is fantastic.
I can't say that any are specifically for one of the three speakers, so I'll throw it up into any of you who's ready and willing. Yeah, I guess I'll just go from the top. This is the first question I can see.
How have you seen your work positively impact the lives of individuals struggling with their mental health? I think we've had a little bit of this already, but does anyone want to elaborate on that?
I'm happy to go. Well, at Lifeline it's a one-on-one call. I don't see the person. I don't know what they're doing after. It's just the context of the call, but you hear the relief in their voice as the call progresses. So, at the start they're at this very heightened, intense emotional state and as you support them and as you actively listen to them and be there with them, for them, you hear the relief in their voice and some calls you'll get feedback.
Thank you so much, you've helped me. But other times you can just, they are cues which tell you how much better they are feeling and that is really rewarding because you can see them, their mental state just completely shift from heightened to calm and that's super rewarding.
Any other, Alison, looks like you're about to respond.
Thank you. Yeah, I was waiting to see if Josh wanted to jump in. Really similar to Iqra and also picking up what Josh mentioned around trust as well. And so, I think in my clinical career, being able to work with people really, really closely and having or allowing that space, I guess, for them to be able to disclose what's really going on for them and being able to support people through that.
And certainly, trust is a really big, big part of that. And so, when you do see that change or that shift and also cues is big in mental health, nursing as well, that's really positive and you can see that you have made a difference for that particular person at that time, which is awesome. That's what we want.
Yeah, I guess I'll go on the back of that too. We are fortunate in a schooling setting that we see these kids every day and so we're able to sort of really support those little wins that we see whether it might be a student with some school refusal behaviour or something like that, we're able to sort of work with them each day to sort of have those little wins which pave way for those major behaviour changes and reintegration of the school community. It's really, really rewarding.
Thank you all for that. I've got a specific question. I'm not sure who can answer this one, but we'll have a try. So, it is a general question. This person is currently undergoing a graduate certificate in public health and wants to know if there are opportunities available in mental health space for health promotion, especially for someone without a medical background. If yes, what are the pathways that can be suggested? So not, so framed around the context of not so common to find job at advertisements and job opportunities for health promotion offices. I guess I'll qualify that and say mental health promotion offices. Well firstly you don't necessarily need to have a background in medical related areas, but anyone that wants to elaborate on that?
I'll give it a go Dan. Certainly and I'm obviously talking from a mental health nursing point of view, but certainly in mental health nursing a lot of our role is promotion of health as well through be it through education of the people that we're working with, their families, their carers and supporters or even in the academic like tertiary environment as well.
Certainly, government positions as well or some of those not for profit type organizations have health promotion type roles in mental health I'm aware of. So, it's probably just a matter of trying to keep your eyes and ears to the ground really to see what might come up.
I know as well in nursing there are, if you wanted to move into nursing as a career pathway and engage in health promotion that way, if you do have a degree, there are I guess shorter nursing degrees where you can fast track the Bachelor of Nursing Program to become a registered nurse. I don't know if that helps.
That's very helpful, thank you. And in fact, someone from the audience has volunteered an answer too, so thank you to that person. There are dedicated community awareness office roles at Headspace. So, Headspace is a really good example of such types of roles and a lot of roles that suit people with various backgrounds, various expertise and training.
Perhaps I'll go over to a broader question for you all. What are some of the skills and qualities that you believe are essential for people considering careers in mental health? What I would say as somebody who's talking to you all and I've met you beforehand, we had a quick chat. I mean, you're all very calm and considered and passionate people. I'd say that they're key skills and qualities, but any other things that you think are really vital to having a career in mental health sector?
Oh, I was just gonna say the trust. I'd like to continue to reiterate that with what Alison mentioned, that's certainly critical, trust and understanding and that non-judgmental approach is yeah, imperative.
Yeah, absolutely. And I would also say being really kind and empathetic towards people that you're working with and being genuinely curious to hear about what's going on for people, no matter the area of mental health that you might be working in. Let people talk and be open to listening I think is super important.
Yeah, I agree with all of you as well, I think empathy, so many skills can be learned, but the most crucial quality to have is just empathy. Showing them that you care.
Sometimes empathy is perhaps something that we might assume people know about. Anyone want to volunteer a definition of empathy? What does it mean to be empathic or to have empathy?
I guess I think for me, being able to articulate that you understand the challenges that people are going through, so being able to voice that with the young person or the adult that you're working with, so they understand that you see them and you see the challenges and that you can really acknowledge that. I think that for me that's really important.
On that note, I think it also involves validating their experience. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need to say your opinion on everything is correct, but just to be like, I can see your pain and I can hear that this is what you're genuinely going through.
Okay, thank you for that. Sorry for that qualifier.
It's sometimes it's helpful just to confirm some terms that we often use.
This is a question that I guess is being touched on, but I also would say that a lot of your questions have been very important about the one-on-one things you do with people in helping people, but how does the mental health sector contribute to the overall wellbeing of communities? If each of you could touch on how you see there being a flow-on effect beyond the individuals that you interact with and help in your work.
Do you think that you have that, there's a flow-on effect? And Josh you've touched on mental health literacy, are you seeing in your areas there being an overall change in the wellbeing in communities?
I can go. I think that mental health isn't just about yourself. When your mental health is good, it affects your relationships, it affects your productivity at work and pretty much every aspect of your life, your physical health as well, and there are flow-on effects from your mental health through all of those different areas.
Yeah, I'll go. Yeah, as I said, I think there's more and more becoming, in my context, an overlap between mental health wellbeing and education. We're not simply just tasked with delivering the curriculum anymore. We're tasked with looking after the health and wellbeing of the students that we work with and the parent body as well.
I know in our school context we're big on community and so it really is around working with parents to support their engagement in school and the wider community. What that will look like in 10 years, I'm not sure, but I know particularly even in the last five or so years, our students has certainly becomes an increasing challenge presented in mental health.
I think the use of social media and through that sort of thing increases our awareness to it and increases our young people's awareness to it. And I think the next part particularly for us is to sort of make sure that we can complement that at a school level with targeted supports and to help them access external providers if they need as well.
I completely agree with Josh and Iqra and the only thing I would add is that you can't have good overall health without having good mental health. And so, I think in all of our roles, we support people's mental health in a really positive way, which has that flow-on effect when people are in community or around their loved ones. And that can be shared and certainly in a nursing context, no matter what area of nursing you work in, you will come across people with mental health or experiences of mental ill health. And so, you are able, then you've got the skills to be able to support people with that, which then flows-on to them going home and talking to their loved ones about mental health, which is great.
Just one more final thing before I wrap up. If only we had more time. It's been great listening to you all and discussing these things. I would say that an observation I think is rather obvious is that you're all continuing your learning and doing studies in conjunction with being in the field, so to speak, working with people.
That's a really key part of I think what a lot of people do in the mental health sector.
Anyone want to elaborate on that? What drives you to keep studying and learning whilst also working in the field?
I guess for me, enrolling in the graduate department of mental health and neuroscience, it was, I know it's fantastic. I'm absolutely loving it for a number of reasons, but I guess it’s applicability across what I do.
So, the focus on mental health and the neuroscience aspect of it. So that's something that I can convey A, to the students I teach, while we teach a senior curriculum, being able to apply that complex mental health and neuroscience lens, I think only benefits them in addition to that focus on the why.
So, the neurobiological underpinnings of mental health conditions I think really helps A, to understand it working in my context, but B, to sort of present that to the young people and the families that we work with, and I have a background, a Master of Education as well, which I did beforehand.
I guess that's also enhanced my practice as a teacher and operating in a schooling based context. But then certainly my current study has been great as well to sort of have access to recent research going on that's so we can be confident in the interventions and the support that we're delivering is backed up by the literature and at the forefront of what's going on in terms of mental health.
Yeah, I think when you are immersed in mental health and that's your passion, I think you want to keep learning and so you throw yourself into that and I think one of the main drivers for me is being able to continue improving my practice in order to be able to better support people that I'm working with. If I wasn't doing that, I'm not giving people the most contemporary practice in the area of mental health nursing or education.
And so that's really important for me and I guess enrolled, me doing my PhD at the moment, that will enable me to be able to conduct research to better support interventions for mental health that can be used in mental health nursing practice to support better outcomes.
Iqra, anything to add? Or I can wrap things up perhaps.
I agree with Alison and Joshua. It's just, you can be the best version of yourself and learn so much and apply what you're learning as well. So, yeah.
Well, thank you all again. I am going to have to wrap things up. Thanks to the audience out there being part of today's Career in Mental Health Webinar.
We do hope that these insights provided to you have provided you with valuable knowledge in regards to your career paths and your journey towards working in the field of mental health.
I extend my gratitude and great thanks to our three wonderful guest speakers for their time and expertise and also for people who have posted questions. I found it really insightful myself and I'm always happy to talk about these topics and I'm sure you will agree it was a great discussion today.
I don't have much time to summarize. I've got some notes, but I think you've heard some wonderful things from all three speakers about how it's great to be working with people when they're, well, it's great to see good outcomes when you work with people who are at their most unwell stages of their life.
But you'll see that a lot of our people in this area, as indicated by the three speakers in the mental health sector tend to work in teams. It's important to self-check in and to debrief and there's a lot of support provided there. It's super important to talk to people who have experience in the field. We heard multiple people say they talk to professors and get insights from lecturers and so on about their career paths and educational pathways. I thought it was a really nice comment made by Iqra about how realizing through experience that it's not about being perfect, it's about being there.
So many wonderful things here. Josh, talking about seeing growth and support and the growth in an individual and how that came from the support work that went into that person. Mental health literacy, breaking down stigma and all the speakers talked about the importance of trust, empathy, and to be curious and to want to listen to people and be there for them.
So, on that note, I'll wrap up my summary and say the following.
As mentioned already, mental health workers are critical to the sustainability of the national mental health system for those considering a career in this field. So please know that you'll be entering a rewarding and challenging profession where you'll make a difference to the lives of people every day.
For any questions that we didn't get to or that we haven't had the opportunity to address, they're going to be made available. Some answers to them are made available on the government website, health.gov.au/mentalhealthcareers.
And I think I've ran out of time. So once again, thank you all for being here. Thanks to the three wonderful speakers and have a very great day. Thank you and goodbye.
Thanks Josh, thanks Iqra. See ya.