Fifteen mental health workers were the first recipients of the Mental Health Career Scholarships announced by Griffith University last week.

Congratulated by the Queensland AssistantHealth MinisterDr Chris Davis, the new scholarships are part of a bid to further develop the non-government community mental health workforce.

Specifically targeted at assisting people who are working, or are interested in obtaining work, in the community mental health sector, the scholarships have been made available by theMental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Directorate, Queensland Health, Skills Queensland and the Health and Community Services Workforce Council. A second round supported by Skills Queensland and the Health and Community Services Workforce Council will be available in 2014.

50 per cent funding

The scholarships will provide 50 per cent funding to support the career development of mental health workers to enrol in theGraduate CertificateorMaster of Mental Health Practice Programsat Griffith.

Ms Magdalena Kuyangis a recipient of a scholarship for the Graduate Certificate which she is planning to study on a part-time basis around her job as a counsellor at the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma. “I work with refugees who come to Australia from many countries across Africa and Asia who are often suffering from a range of mental health issues. Language barriers are typically common. My passion is helping these people in adjusting to their new lives; I am confident that this Graduate Certificate will help me further understand mental health issues and communicate them effectively to the wider government community.”

Meanwhile, father-of-fourAndrew Youngwill commence his two year, part time study for the Master of Mental Health Practice in 2013. A regional manager of a non-government Rockhampton-based organisation, the Integrated Family and Youth Service, Mr Young said the qualification provides a great opportunity to increase mental health knowledge and skills and to relay this back to his colleagues. “I believe that increasing mental health understanding should be embraced by those within the sector, to improve the overall wellbeing of our communities.”

Mr Young said the 50 per cent funding towards the study program “went a long way to assisting my decision to enrol at Griffith”.

“Harnessing resources”

Dr Chris Davis described the collaboration between the Industry Partners Griffith as a “wonderful example of harnessing resources”.

“There has been some great work occurring at Griffith within mental health, a field which continues to have many complex challenges ahead. As such, it requires sophisticated expert teams to deal with them. Well skilled people for these jobs is vital and these Griffith programs are going a long way to assisting with this.”

Program convenorProfessor Amanda Wheelerfrom Griffith’sSchool of Human Services and Social Worksaid she was delighted at the high degree of interest that the scholarship program had generated since its release. “More than 170 people have registered interest in the scheme via the Griffith website so far, with registrations of interest continuing to be received well past the closing date.

“Griffith’s innovative interdisciplinary Mental Health Practice Program was developed in response to emerging community need for a skilled and capable mental health workforce.

“The programs provide students with high quality learning experiences that equip practitioners with specialist knowledge and advanced practice skills in supporting people with mental illness or psychiatric disability living in the community.”