Paramedics’ Attitudes Towards Clients with Mental Health/Substance Misuse Problems

The 2018 International Mental Health Conference is on next week over the 8th – 10th August at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

This annual conference is now in its 19th year and continues to be the pinnacle event in the mental health industry. The Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and to share knowledge, research and latest policies.

Professor Terence V. McCann, Professor of Mental Health Nursing at Victoria University joins us at the conference to discuss ‘Paramedics’ Attitudes Towards Clients with Mental Health/Substance Misuse Problems’.


Paramedics are frequently required to transport clients with difficult and complex issues involving mental health, alcohol and other drug (AOD) and/or self-harm. However, their training focuses primarily on life-threatening emergencies, trauma and resuscitation. Inadequate training in mental health and/or AOD can undermine their competence and willingness to care for clients with these problems. A combination of high work pressure and limited mental health training may contribute to stigmatising attitudes. The aims of this study were to assess paramedics’ ability to recognise, and their attitudes towards, clients with clinically defined depression and psychosis with and without comorbid AOD misuse.

A cross-sectional national online survey was used to evaluate the views of 1,230 paramedics throughout Australia. The survey was based on four vignettes: depression with suicidal thoughts, depression with suicidal thoughts and co-morbid alcohol problems, and psychosis with and without co-morbid AOD problems. While just under half of respondents recognised depression, this decreased to one-fifth when co-morbid AOD problems were added to the vignette. In contrast, almost 90% recognised psychosis, but this decreased to just under 60% when co-morbid AOD problems were added. Respondents were more likely to hold stigmatising attitudes towards people in the vignettes with depression and psychosis when co-morbid AOD problems were present. These findings indicate the need for a well-crafted multi-component response which supports cultural change and education to improve their recognition of, and attitudes towards, these clients. Education should focus on caring for people with specific disorders, and on understanding and caring for people with AOD problems. The perceptions of dangerousness and unpredictability in people with psychosis should also be addressed.


Terence V. McCann is Professor of Mental Health Nursing, Institute of Health and Sport, Victoria University, in Melbourne. His clinical background is in mental health and medical-surgical nursing in England, Ireland and Australia. His principal research interests are prevention and early intervention with adolescents and adults in the mental health and substance use fields, and family interventions. In his research, Terence collaborates closely with Turning Point national addiction treatment centre. He has over 130 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals, book chapters and reports, and has given over 100 major conference presentations.

For further information on the 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit

Please follow and like us:

Stepped Care Treatment of Anxiety and Depression in Older Adults

Previous post

SMART Recovery: Reducing impacts of problematic behaviour through self-management/mutual aid

Next post