CRANAplus, a professional body representing Australia’s remote and isolated health workforce, has received a $13 million funding injection from the federal government that will enable it to continue to provide remote health professionals, including rural and remote nurses, with access to training, professional services and mental health support.
The funding, spread over three years, will be used to provide a suite of webinars, podcasts and tailored workshops to support rural and remote health professionals working on the frontline in the face of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 and help them deal with the mental health fallout from these events.
CRANAplus CEO Katherine Isbister said many rural communities had dealt with years of drought, compounded by last summer’s devastating bushfires, and were now grappling with COVID-19.
“Our primary health clinicians are starting to see an increase in complex, trauma-related mental health presentations linked to these events, and we need to support them to continue caring for their communities,” Ms Isbister said.
“In many cases, our rural and remote health professionals have been through the same traumas and challenges as their patients and they haven’t had a break to be able to look after their own wellbeing.”
CRANAplus psychologist, Cath Walker, said free resources, developed in conjunction with experts in the field of disaster recovery and mental health, can be accessed via the organisation’s website.
She said consultations in remote and rural communities had led to training content being developed across four key areas:
- Effects of disaster, long term stress, common reactions and helpful responses
- Potential for secondary trauma and burnout in health professionals and other carers
- Resilience and self-care strategies to reduce the potential long term effect on personal health and wellbeing
- Increasing confidence with conversation about mental health using basic listening, counselling and communication skills
“The prolonged disaster-related stress being experience by some of our rural and remote communities is placing significant pressure on isolated clinicians, who may not have had mental health training, particularly when community members are unable to travel to access specialist mental health care, so it’s vital to provide tools to help the helpers,” Ms Walker said.
Health professionals in areas affected by drought and/or bushfires interested in having a local mental health training workshop can contact CRANAplus’ National Project Manager Kristy Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.crana.org.au to access the free resources.
The initiative complements CRANAplus’ existing Bush Support Services 14-7 toll-free support line on 1800 805 391 for rural and remote health professionals and their families.