The Lowitja Institute has continued its involvement with the long-running Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) based at the Menzies School of Health Research in the Northern Territory with the recent production of updated training resources.
AIMhi has been operating since 2003 after beginning life as a five-year action research project supported by the previous Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health (CRCAH), the National Medical Health and Research Council and the NT Department of Health. It conducted research into remote area mental health and explored new ways to deliver mental health services to remote areas. It also delivered training for mental health services and health workers operating in these areas, and this has now developed into a full suite of training resources including workshops, seminars, short courses and conference presentations.
The updated training resources include a Stay Strong Plan and three separate flipcharts: Mental Health Brain Story, Mental Health Medication Story and Making Change? No Worries!. The Stay Strong Plan is a double-sided A4 card that is used as the basis for a number of wellbeing interventions, including as a screening and referral tool, a psycho education tool, an assessment tool, a care planning tool and as the format for delivery of a brief therapy.
Production of these resources began during the final year of the CRCAH with delivery to Menzies occurring progressively after the transition to the Lowitja institute in 2010. All the new items are now included in the AIMhi Training Pack, which can be found online (see below).
The flipcharts and Stay Strong Plan have since been referenced in a number of best practice guidelines, resources and reports. Training using these resources has been delivered within four postgraduate nursing and public health programs (at Charles Darwin University, Menzies and the Centre for Remote Health) and incorporated into two on-line training programs (orientation to remote mental health in the NT and Alcohol and Other Drugs training in Queensland). Many other services and individuals in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have ordered the resources or downloaded them and sought permission to adapt them to their own settings.
Since AIMhi finished its initial research work in 2009, it has moved to establish itself as a commercial provider of training and is now working on transitioning the training activities to a more sustainable business model. To find out more about AIMhi, and to access the training and educational resources, go to: www.menzies.edu.au/AIMHI.