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The Southern Cross : April 2012
Page 8 April 2012 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross | news Jordon Keipert knows well the debilitating sense of helplessness felt as a family member on the sidelines of a destructive mental illness. The 22-year-old Adelaide Diocesan Youth Ministry Development Officer for Social Justice has witnessed a close family member suffer from bipolar disorder, which was undiagnosed until two years ago. "It's been difficult because at first I did not understand why they were behaving this way or how I could help," says Jordan. "Even after diagnosis, I've never really known how best to support them." Bipolar disorder comes from an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, which can cause extreme fluctuations of mood from the heights of mania to the depths of depression. It often goes unrecognised and there is good evidence that it can take up to 10 years for an accurate diagnosis. Last month, Jordan was among a group of Catholic youth, health, welfare and education workers who took part in a unique First Aid course aimed at diagnosing the signs of, and supporting youth with, mental health problems. Jordan says the Youth Mental Health First Aid Course was "essential' information for all young people and people working with youth. "It gives you information and the skills to know the warning signs and how to best approach it because if you get it wrong, you can actually make things worse." The two-day course was run by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service school support clinical practice consultant Rick Thompson for the Catholic Office for Youth and Young Adults. The course was first run last year for the Catholic Youth Office and covers the topics, including case studies, of: depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, eating disorders, and substance mis-use. Mr Thompson said the inaction of youth with mental health problems in seeking support and the inaction of those who don't know how to support them was a "big problem" and one which the course helped address. "Often people can't give the support or advice youth with a mental health problem might need, or the youth themselves don't know where to go to find help," said Mr Thompson. He said the prevalence of mental health problems among 16 to 24-year-olds was higher than in the general population. "Hence the need for people to have an understanding of those (youth-specific) conditions. The earlier people get help, the more likely it is to reduce the severity and the length of the mental health episode." The Youth Mental Health First Aid Program was launched in 2007 and is designed for adults assisting young people. The second edition became available in 2010. It has been developed from an adult-version created by Betty Kitchener and Professor Tony Jorm in 2001 to improve the mental health literacy of the Australian community. The program is currently delivered in over 15 countries and operates under the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre at the University of Melbourne. See story on mental illness recovery group, Grow, on page 21. For information on mental health contact the beyondblue info line on 1300 22 4636 or email infoline@ beyondblue.org.au. The SANE helpline is 1800 187 263 and Lifeline is 131 114. By Rebecca DiGirolamo KEEN TO HELP: Adelaide Diocesan Youth Ministry Development Officer for Social Justice Jordan Keipert says youth and youth workers should know mental health first aid just as they would physical first aid. Photo: Nat Rogers First Aid for youth mental health Privacy and peace in a new premium burial courtyard. Until 30 June 2012, each Tranquillity Corner purchase includes a complimentary interment service. 8139 7400 Port Road, Cheltenham 5014 www.aca.sa.gov.au TRANQUILLITY CORNER In today's competitive environment it's important to have something extra to offer potential employers. Postgraduate study in Aboriginal and Indigenous Studies at the University of South Australia can give you an edge. Expand your career prospects with a Masters by Coursework, Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Studies and gain the skills and knowledge required to work in a range of Indigenous contexts. With flexible learning options including a range of courses offered online, you can position yourself to make a difference for future generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. For more information please visit unisa.edu.au/unaipon or call 1300 UNI NOW. Want a competitive edge? Apply now for postgraduate Aboriginal Studies at UniSA. JAM USA/0840/15_CRICOS PROVIDER NO 00121B