ISA Facilitates Mental Health First Aid Training

the first group of students complete Mental Health First Aid Training in November.

Students with their Mental Health First Aid certificates, along with certified trainer Elaine O'Brien

Students with their Mental Health First Aid certificates, along with certified trainer Elaine O'Brien

Over the last twelve months the Irish Support Agency, together with The Irish Consulate, identified the need for mental health supports specific to the Irish population in Sydney. We plan to develop a comprehensive Health & Well-being project over the next year, but kicked things off last month with Mental Health First Aid training for Irish Community groups thanks to funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs' Emigrant Support Program.

Mental health first aid is the help given to someone developing a mental problem or in a mental health crisis. Regular first aid courses are widespread, however most of these courses do not address helping with mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid training aims to fill this gap. 

Representatives from Irish Community groups including GAA clubs, Sydney Rose of Tralee, Darkness into Light, Irish National Association, Sydney Queer Irish and Irish Brekkie Club undertook a two day certified training program delivered by trainer Elaine O'Brien. By including representatives of these active groups the impact of training will be widespread in the Irish Community in Sydney. 

Elaine, originally from Co.Cork, is a mental health professional with vast experience in both Ireland and Australia. She delivers this training regularly but this was the first time she delivered it specifically to a group of Irish people living in Sydney.

Speaking after the training Elaine said;

"I believe it is really important to run Mental Health First Aid Training for Irish communities in Sydney, not only to educate people on what is mental illness, but to give people the confidence and skills in providing support. The more we educate people the more likely we are to reduce the stigma around mental illness.
We are all a long way from home and often unsure of services available. This course gives us information and ideas on where to go to access mental health support in Sydney. Having groups specific to the Irish community coming along helps people form networks and adds to their support systems. Mental illness affects 1 in 5 people in any given year, and the more we educate people the more likely people are going to be, in seeking help, and this will help provide better outcomes for the person experiencing mental illness."

Our thanks to the students who gave up their weekends to undertake the training, Elaine for being a fantastic source of information and to the Irish Consulate and Irish Abroad Unit for making the training possible.

We look forward to expanding our services in 2017 and hope to deliver the training again. If you would like to be involved in the Irish Support Agency's Health & Well-being Working Group please contact Roisin at