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Mental health is at the forefront of the Rotary Club of Berwick’s latest initiative.
Following the success of several youth mental health forums in the area, the group decided to take things a step further and use some of the funds raised through community activities to sponsor residents in mental health first training (MHFA).
“We have had really positive feedback from several sporting coaches, teachers and members of the community who have gone through the training program,” Berwick Rotarian Jim Armstrong said.
“They tell us they now have the knowledge and tools to make a big difference in the way they handle issues of mental stress suffered by some in their charge.
The MHFA program was founded by Betty Kitchener, AM, and Prof Tony Jorm, both committed Rotarians, in 2000 with the aim of building the mental health literacy of the community.
The training teaches participants how to provide assistance to people developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem, or a mental health crisis, and encourages them to seek appropriate professional help using an action plan.
Berwick Rotarian Glenn Schumacher said he was so inspired by the good work his club had been doing in this area that he quietly took the information he had been given at a recent Rotary meeting to his head office at AGL, and presented management with his views on why they need to look at this training for their workers.
To his delight it has become a company directive that all managers be trained in mental health first aid as a requirement of the role.
Mr Schumacher said he was extremely proud to be the instigator of a nationwide change in his company.
“I feel truly glad I spoke to management about this project and that by being a Rotarian I can share the work we do with other people,” he said.
Berwick Rotarian and Australian Rotary Health District Representative Vivienne Armstrong said the club was committed to continuing this kind of work within the community and encouraged people with likeminded views to get in touch with the group.
To stay informed about the work the Rotary Club of Berwick does, visit www.rotaryberwick.org.

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