UniSA Chair in Mental Health Nursing, Professor Nicholas Procter says the response across SA to opportunities for mental health nurses, health care professionals and people involved across the spectrum in dealing with everyday acute mental health care issues, to share experiences and new ideas has been more than encouraging.
“I think as a professional community, South Australia has responded enthusiastically to the notion that improved mental health care is a priority for the nation,” Prof Procter says.
“As an academic Chair in Mental Health Nursing, an important part of my role is to strengthen the links between educators and practitioners and I believe we’re building very strong relationships so that professionals feel they can come back and do more study and students know that the lessons they are learning are based on real world practice and informed by people out there working in the field.”
Prof Procter said the Mt Gambier Acute Mental Health Care and Risk Practice Development Symposium would follow a successful symposium model that has been used in the city and other regional centres to bring together mental health workers to discuss what is working and what isn’t and learn from shared experiences.
“Getting people together from across the mental health care sector provides a great opportunity for learning,” Prof Procter says.
“We have also been very keen to hear from people who are receiving mental health services because their input is invaluable.”
He says in the past 12 months more than 500 SA Health mental health employees across metropolitan and country South Australia have participated in Mental Health Master Classes and joint SA Health and UniSA symposia as part of a strategy to upskill professionals and create learning networks for health workers.
“In addition there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of Registered Nurses undertaking postgraduate studies in the mental health area,” he says.
“This is an exciting turnaround and one that will mean we can increase the expertise in the workforce to help support better health comes for some of the most marginalised in our society.
“It also means that regional communities such as Mt Gambier which experiences more than 1000 mental health beds a year will have a bigger pool of health professionals to help manage and support these mental health consumers.”
He said the symposium would look at a wide range of issues in a bid to underpin the delivery of more effective, consumer-focused mental health care and treatment and provide more information to health care professionals on evidence-based practice.
The symposium will be led by Prof Procter and Philip Gallet, Mental Health Nursing Director, Country Health SA and will be held at UniSA’s Mt Gambier Regional Centre, on November 11 from 9 am to 4.30 pm.