Wesley LifeForce to be at the frontline of suicide prevention on NSW North Coast

Wesley LifeForce to be at the frontline of suicide prevention on NSW North Coast

Wesley Mission’s suicide prevention program, Wesley LifeForce, will deliver training to 280 health, allied health and community ‘gate keepers’ like teachers and social workers on the NSW North Coast following the announcement of funding by the Federal Assistant Minister for Health Dr David Gillespie in Port Macquarie today.

North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN) is providing $110,648 to Wesley LifeForce suicide prevention training. This training program is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Primary Health Network Program.

Wesley LifeForce training is evidence-based and designed for gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are community members who are well positioned to recognise a crisis and the warning signs of suicide risk and respond appropriately. The bulk of these will be community members, as well as GPs, practice nurses, reception staff and regional frontline workers will receive training through a series of North Coast workshops, seminars and online forums which will run during the next 12 months.

“This training is part of our Government’s larger commitment to mental health, suicide prevention, and alcohol and other drugs in this region,” Dr Gillespie said.

“We have a program that is shown to work. Wesley Mission has the runs on the board. Their LifeForce support, education and training of gatekeepers, whether it’s GPs, nurses, ambulance men, policemen, teachers, sporting groups, is a great way of practically intervening and getting strategies in place to prevent major mental health issues.

“On the North Coast we have seen unfortunately an above average incidence of suicide…we want to have practical strategies in place to intervene because education, awareness, and intervention strategies is the way to go.”

Dr Gillespie encouraged other Federal MPs to get practical programs in place that have evidence based outcomes and are known to work.

“Wesley LifeForce is one of the partners that Minister Greg Hunt has given funds to in his latest announcements,” Dr Gillespie said. “The taxpayer and the Health Department like to support programs that have an evidence base and a proven efficacy.

“If you haven’t got one (suicide prevention program) in your local electorate and you have a problem… that would be the strategy I would look at. Go to your PHN and make sure they are aware of programs like this.”

The training aims to improve understanding of suicide, increase the participant’s ability to identify suicide behaviours and intervene in the best possible way. The training locations selected will be done in partnership with the community and the health sector to ensure maximum reach and delivery to regions of highest need.

NCPHN’s Director Mental Health Reform & Integration, Dr Megan Lawrance, said Wesley LifeForce training offered a range of modules that met the needs of the community.

“Wesley LifeForce has a proven track record in enhancing the capacity of individual community members, including clinical and non-clinical professionals, to deliver suicide prevention interventions and assist people to engage with suicide prevention services,” Dr Lawrance said.

Wesley Mission CEO the Rev Dr Keith Garner said since 1996 Wesley LifeForce training had been delivered to more than 30,000 people across Australia.

“The program includes educating people about suicide, challenging attitudes and teaching basic engagement skills,” Dr Garner said.

“We work with local communities helping them to find local solutions to one of Australia’s most pressing problems. We are looking forward to supporting the North Coast with this important program.”

Manager of Wesley LifeForce, Tony Cassidy, said Wesley Mission would deliver five Community Suicide Prevention Training Workshops, three General Practitioner and Practice Nurse Suicide Prevention Training Workshops, three Practice Staff and Managers Suicide Prevention Seminars, six Specialist Clinical Practitioner Webinars covering subjects that may include anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, eating disorders, alcohol and other drugs.

“Having trained in excess of 35,000 people in the SALT suicide prevention strategy Wesley LifeForce has been able to support saving lives at a very local level,” Mr Cassidy said. “We know suicides can be prevented and this funding will assist the development of knowledge and skills to do just that.”

Photo: Wesley Mission’s Tony Cassidy with Federal Assistant Minister for Health Dr David Gillespie at the announcement in Port Macquarie today.

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