#35 How to Become a Mental Health Champion
How to become a mental health champion
At a recent event in Sydney, a presenter, a renowned psychiatrist, said something that struck a chord with me: It’s not about the tools, it’s about who will take us through them.
In other words, it’s not about resources – it’s about who will use them, how they will use them, and importantly, what happens to the information the resources provide?
For example, the ‘5 Facts about Me’ resource available on my website is a really powerful tool that allows you to get to know the elders in your care. But once you’ve used the tool, what do you do with the information? Pop it on their file? What is the process in dealing with the information?
The big question is, how will you use what you have learned in your day to day interactions?
It’s great to have information about how to improve the quality of experience for the elders in your care, however, having the resources and information alone won’t enable you to be a mental health champion. It’s what you do with the information that really counts.
Mental health champions work collaboratively, involving others in the process as needed to help older people identify and achieve their goals.
We are never too old to achieve goals, and many of my workshops and resources are centred around helping elders realise what their goals are so they can identify steps to achieving them.
When I think about tools for enhancing wellbeing in elders, it’s about uncovering the process of taking them from A to B. How do we help them get what they want in their life? How do we help them achieve those goals?
The people who help them this process are mental health champions. So, who are they?
It’s not necessarily someone with a degree or someone specifically employed in a lifestyle or health professional role. A mental health champion can be anyone who is dedicated and committed to improving mental health outcomes in an older person.
It could be a carer, nurse, lifestyle personnel, a chaplain, physio, or anyone who uses the information they have gathered from interactions and tools to improve their engagement.
So, how can you become a mental health champion?
If you are able to use your knowledge and personal attributes to enhance the lifestyle factors of the elders in your life, you are suitable to be a mental health champion, whether you are a family member, friend, allied health professional or any other person in their life.
In my experience, some people might do a 2-hour workshop (like my ‘Grief and Loss in Late Life’ program) and that might provide them with all they need to be able to recognise what’s going on for the older person, and understand when they need to escalate concerns further or access additional support.
For others, they might choose to do my 6-hour ‘Enhancing Emotional Wellbeing in Late Life’ workshop, to further expand their learning and mental health champion toolkit.
In recent times, the pandemic and natural disasters have affected access to many aged care settings. Global events such as wars and climate change have also caused triggers in some. In these times, we also need to understand how we can best support residents when so much is happening.
This is not about being unrealistic, or trying to make them happy. Instead, as mental health champions we are looking for ways to improve social connections and minimise the risk of disengagement.
Mental health champion moments happen in your day to day interactions with elders. Even if you feel like you have no more time and capacity available, if you are already communicating with clients, you have an opportunity to lead by example in your approach and interactions. You don’t need a badge, you just need a commitment to promote the wellbeing of our precious elders.
In this episode you will learn:
- What is a mental health champion?
- Why are they important in aged care?
- Who are they?
- How can you become a mental health champion?
- Where can you find the tools to support you?