A Strategy to Support Rural and Remote Mental Health Workers

The 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will this year be held over 15-17 October at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania.

Joining us at the conference is Mr Richard Whitton, District Nurse Educator Mental Health at Western New South Wales Local Health District, Mental Health Drug and Alcohol who will present on ‘A Strategy to Support Rural and Remote Mental Health Workers’.


Western New South Wales Local Health District (WNSWLHD) Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol (MHDA) is exploring recruitment, preparation and support of Rural and Remote Mental health workers and is about to embark upon a pilot program to achieve these goals in three locations. Success of this strategy will ensure that it become part of WNSWLHD MHDA’s Transition to Practice Program for New Graduate Nurses.

Recruitment of a MHDA workforce has been a challenge in Dubbo, Lightning Ridge and Bourke and a pilot program involving ongoing support and education has been devised with the plan that participants will feel confident and competent to work in remote locations whilst being aware of how to access support mechanisms. Participants will receive workplace support from a variety of sources including daily videoconferencing with Area Team Managers and will be visited regularly by the District Mental Health Nurse Educator. They will engage in an educational program which will end in being awarded a Health Education Training Institute (HETI) certificate in “Preparation for Rural and Remote Mental Health Work.”

The success of this program could see it being adapted to all disciplines in the Mental Health workforce.

Evaluation of the pilot program will be by way of ongoing three monthly performance appraisal and completion data along with an exit interview where participants will be able to express a likelihood to pursue further employment in this sector.

Key Learning:
1. Recruitment Education Retention


Richard Whitton is a Mental Health Nurse with more than 43 years’ experience. He has worked in Acute, Forensic and Community Mental Health settings in Metropolitan and Rural and Remote settings as a clinician, Manager and Educator. Since coming to Bloomfield Orange in 2000 he has held a variety of positions including that as Nurse Educator for the last 10 years. He regularly visits remote teams in western NSW providing education and support. Richard wrote and taught "Intervention De-escalation and Evaluation in Aggression as an Aggression Management program for WLHDMHDA and was instrumental in assembling the Mental Health New Graduate Program.

For more information on the 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium and to secure early bird discounted rates currently on offer please visit anzmh.asn.au/rrmh


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