VERTO program to grow mental health support in remote NSW communities

A number of people from regional and remote NSW attended Bathurst's VERTO employment and training centre throughout the week to build their knowledge and skills on suicide prevention.

For the last eight months, 11 participants from across NSW have been participating in a course providing training that will equip them for roles in the field of mental health support work.

The course is a joint program between VERTO and Western Plains Regional Development Centre, and is designed to provide more accessible mental health support services in regional and remote communities.

"Mental health is a serious issue in isolated communities and is often overlooked by members of society," VERTO chief executive officer Ron Maxwell said.

"The suicide rate in regional NSW is around 50 per cent higher than in metropolitan areas, which stresses the need to address the issue in more remote communities."

Each participant has received a scholarship to aid in their training and on completion of the course, they will receive a Certificate IV in Community Services.

The scholarships were awarded on the basis of locations experiencing a greater prevalence of mental health-related issues.

Grenfell's Chad White entered the course to gain necessary knowledge to support the more vulnerable members of his community.

"It's important for small communities to have someone there to encourage people that they're never alone," Mr White said.

"For me, the issue of suicide hits very close to home, and I hope to use all the techniques I have learned to assist others in managing their mental health."

The course has incorporated participants from a variety of socioeconomic groups, including farmers, miners, youth and Indigenous Australians.

Funding for the course was provided by the Western NSW Primary Health Network [WNSWPHN] through the federal government's National Suicide Prevention Trial.

"This program is investing in people from smaller communities to become leaders in mental health support and address workforce shortages in remote areas," WNSWPHN program coordinator Sue Hackney said.


As published in the Western Advocate, May 17 2019 - 5:00AM