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Byron Shire
November 29, 2021

Mental health the focus

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Tutors and graduates who have just completed a tailored mental health program in the Northern NSW Local Health District. Photo supplied.

One could ponder the idea that there are not more people with mental health issues now than in the past, it’s just that we are more aware of it these days.

That awareness has seen more people choose a career in mental health, and the arrival of new specialist nurses is set to further improve mental health care in the Northern Rivers and across NSW.

Six new graduates have just completed a tailored mental health program in the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD).

Already half the graduates have new jobs in full-time mental health roles across the district. The remaining three are taking their new skills to the Emergency Department at Lismore Base and other hospitals.

The Transition to Mental Health Nursing Program (TMHNP) has produced 38 graduates since 2012, all with the skills and knowledge to excel in a career in mental health.

‘This year’s graduates are so impressive, they are so enthusiastic and are committed to making a positive difference to the mental health of our patients,’ says Nurse Educator, Ryan Rooney.

‘Graduates of past programs have continued to build strong careers as Clinical Nurse Educators, acting Nurse Unit Managers, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Case Managers.’

The six people selected for the program each year share clinical rotations in Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Kamala), Community Mental Health, Adult Mental Health (Tallowwood), and Older Persons Mental Health (Lilli Pilli).

‘We also factor in a fortnightly education session incorporating senior clinicians across the Network presenting information on a wide variety of topics,’ said Mr Rooney. ‘These include subjects such as evidence-based practice and research, psychoanalytic theories, and mental state exams, to name a few.’

Over the course of the 12-month program, the TMHNP participants also complete academic studies at a high level, allowing them to apply for advance standing in post-graduate nursing studies at Southern Cross University.

The TMHNP program is currently in Tweed Heads and Lismore, with plans to expand to the Grafton Mental Health Service this year.

For more information, visit the TMHNP website.


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