Griffith University Health is the recipient of almost $5.7 million from the Australian Government to help build the nation’s mental health workforce with the National Mental Health Pathways to Practice Program Pilot.
As part of a ten-year National Mental Health Workforce Strategy, the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement aims to build a mental health and suicide prevention workforce that is culturally safe and responsive to the changing needs of the Australian community.
The Pathways to Practice Program grant will allow Griffith to prepare more students to work in the mental health sector after they graduate and expand initiatives to retain nursing, occupational therapy, social work and psychology students and attract these graduates to the mental health sector.
Director of Micro-credentialing and Short Courses at Griffith Health Professor Andrea Bialocerkowski said the funding will assist to address current shortages and distribution issues within the sector, including in rural areas.
“Supervised placement opportunities in less intensive service settings are integral to positive experiences for students and graduates and encourages them to continue in the mental health sector in their future careers,” Professor Bialocerkowski said.
“This funding allows us to prepare more students to work in the field which will consequently provide quality health professionals to the workforce and will ultimately enhance the quality of care delivered.
“Griffith Health will deliver 254 nursing, 170 occupational therapy and 172 social work student placements and 80 psychology placements.”
Acting Academic Lead, Occupational Therapy Professor Louise Gustafsson said exposure to an area of practice during university studies greatly increases the likelihood of a graduate working in that area.
“We are excited at the opportunity to provide each of our students with experience in a mental health practice area,” Professor Gustafsson said.
Deputy Head of Learning and Teaching at the School of Nursing and Midwifery Associate Professor Marion Tower said: “The prospect for nursing students to experience practice in settings outside high acuity areas will provide opportunities to develop a deeper understanding about the mental health needs of the community.”
Academic Lead and Social Work Professor Donna McAuliffe said: “In the post-pandemic period of increased mental health issues for people of all ages, an increase in the social work contribution to the workforce will be of great assistance particularly in rural and remote settings.”
Deputy Head of Learning and Teaching at the School of Applied Psychology Dr Heather Green said: “We are excited about the expanded contributions our postgraduate psychology students will be able to make to community mental health, both during their supervised placements and after graduating as highly trained members of the mental health workforce.”