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Tuesday , 28 September 2021

Lockdown’s got you down?

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Roxanne Sarthou
Roxanne Sarthou graduated from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She is an Australian-qualified Financial Planner, Private Banker, Lending Manager and Property Investor. The information provided in this article is that of the author. Readers may get in touch with her via email on sarthou@honourbrothers.com.

The cycle of and lockdowns we are living in, day in and day out has certainly weighed down on the mental and emotional wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Maintaining a healthy mindset has become a serious concern in the wake of ongoing stay-at-home and other government-mandated restrictions we are experiencing today.

In response, the Filipino Community Council of Victoria Inc. (FCCVI ) held its first-ever Mental Health First Aid Training for volunteers and FCCVI staff on August 5 and 6, 2021. The two-day training program, held at the Filipino Hub on Somerville Road in Brooklyn, Victoria, was organized by FCCVI President Marlon De Leon. This was designed to equip FCCVI staff and volunteers to properly assist and respond to mental health issues brought by the current pandemic among the members of our community.

The aim of this program was to extend the concept of first aid training to include addressing mental health issues, empowering participants to provide immediate support to those manifesting mental health problems. It also imparted the skills required to deal with those issues and established a clearly defined pathway for obtaining additional help for those manifesting more serious mental health problems.

The training was attended by 21 participants and was funded by the Brimbank City Council through the Brimbank Community Recovery Grant. Mental Health First Aid Instructor Michelle Kleinert and co-facilitator Catherine Teal provided the training over the two-day period, which resulted in a new batch of certified mental health first-aiders.

While the task of addressing serious, long-term cases remains the scope of mental health professionals, it is hoped that suitably-trained first-aiders can provide a good point of first contact for those starting to experience the early signs of mental stress such as anxiety, isolation-fueled depression, feelings of despondency which in some cases lead to suicidal tendencies. 

As a community-based assistance program, deploying suitably trained mental health first-aiders is expected to lighten the burden imposed on full-time mental health practitioners. It is also envisioned that mental health first-aiders should be better positioned to provide immediate assistance to those coping with crisis events and quickly resolve potentially damaging situations.

As always, the FCCVI is committed to helping out the community. If you come across anyone who needs someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to approach any of the volunteers and the FCCVI staff. The FCCVI also provides food and relief services and may be reached by email – centre.manager@fccvi.org.au.


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