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Critical Conversations - Free online course

8 Aug 2022

A new, free, interactive online course called ‘Critical Conversations’ is available on the CRANAplus website. It prepares the workforce to navigate conversations with people who need support, recognise when extra help is needed, and familiarise with key points when discussing self-harm or suicide.

Kristy Hill, Edu­ca­tion & Resource Man­ag­er Men­tal Health & Well­be­ing, CRANAplus

I clear­ly remem­ber, very ear­ly on in my career as a remote health work­er, a time when I was sit­ting at the air­port wait­ing to fly out of a com­mu­ni­ty. I was yarn­ing with a col­league who I hadn’t known for long. I soon realised that they weren’t trav­el­ling well and I need­ed to check-in with them and offer my support. 

I remem­ber think­ing Oh no! They need some­one to talk to. I hope I don’t stuff this up!” 

As the years have gone by, I’ve realised that although I might feel a lit­tle anx­ious, the most impor­tant thing I can do is to reach out, to have empa­thy and to lis­ten well.

As health work­ers in rur­al and remote com­mu­ni­ties we are on the front­line of sup­port­ing indi­vid­u­als in the com­mu­ni­ty. Whether at work or off duty, we are in a posi­tion of trust. How­ev­er, health work­ers may not feel con­fi­dent in talk­ing with indi­vid­u­als who may need help or are expe­ri­enc­ing emo­tion­al distress.

As a result, the CRANAplus Men­tal Health and Well­be­ing Ser­vice has devel­oped Crit­i­cal Con­ver­sa­tions, a new, free online course for rur­al and remote health work­ers. This course has been designed to build health work­ers skills in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with indi­vid­u­als who may need help, are in emo­tion­al dis­tress or you are wor­ried about.

We hope it will increase work­ers’ con­fi­dence in hav­ing these crit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions and know­ing when to seek addi­tion­al help and sup­port for com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, mem­bers of your fam­i­ly and colleagues.

Why would rur­al and remote health pro­fes­sion­als want to do this course?

We are all affect­ed by per­son­al dis­tress at some point in our lives. Each year, one in five remote and rur­al Aus­tralians will expe­ri­ence a men­tal health dis­or­der¹. Sui­cide is the lead­ing cause of death for Aus­tralians between the ages of 15 and 44 years, with peo­ple in remote areas being two times more like­ly to die by suicide.

These facts can be con­fronting; how­ev­er, sui­cide can be pre­vent­ed. Evi­dence indi­cates that hav­ing these con­ver­sa­tions can make a real dif­fer­ence in improv­ing someone’s well­be­ing and sav­ing someone’s life².

Health pro­fes­sion­als are one of the most trust­ed pro­fes­sions, so it is com­mon that patients will dis­close issues regard­ing their own or their loved one’s dis­tress and men­tal health. There­fore, health work­ers can play a vital role in sup­port­ing some­one in distress.

They are also in a posi­tion where they inter­act sig­nif­i­cant­ly with the com­mu­ni­ty – and can role mod­el healthy con­ver­sa­tions with oth­er peo­ple. It can be daunt­ing to many health work­ers as they may not feel they have the skills and train­ing in men­tal health. This course is designed to build con­fi­dence and devel­op the basic skills to recog­nise if some­one may be strug­gling, ini­ti­ate a con­ver­sa­tion, lis­ten and pro­vide sup­port, and encour­age action.

Mar­ree, SA – Zor­ro Stock images – stock​.adobe​.com

What’s involved in the course?

This free, inter­ac­tive online course has been designed by remote men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als specif­i­cal­ly for the rur­al and remote health work­force. It guides learn­ers through a 4‑step approach for hav­ing a suc­cess­ful con­ver­sa­tion and is packed full of prac­ti­cal strate­gies and real-life scenarios. 

The course aims to pro­vide par­tic­i­pants with the skills and con­fi­dence to:

  • Be pre­pared and respond when some­one approach­es you to have a con­ver­sa­tion, or you are con­cerned about someone
  • Increase con­fi­dence and skills to have a suc­cess­ful conversation
  • Know when extra help is needed
  • Be famil­iar with key points in regard to dis­cussing self-harm or suicide
  • Know where peo­ple can access help and resources nationally

Access the Crit­i­cal Con­ver­sa­tions course or for more infor­ma­tion con­tact wellbeing@​crana.​org.​au