Today I received exciting news that the abstract I put forward for the Suicide Prevention Australia Conference has been accepted. I’ll be presenting at the Conference in Hobart this coming July. Here is a copy of my conference abstract for those of you who may be attending:
Topic: Teachers, the greatest untapped resource in youth suicide prevention
The promotion of adolescent mental health for the prevention of suicide has become a leading concern for educators, charged with the ethical responsibility to ensure timely, appropriate and effective intervention strategies for young people. The potential exists for schools to be proactive agents in suicide prevention by ensuring all staff are trained to act as ‘Gatekeepers’, picking up on warning signs in students and linking them with mental health professionals. Teachers have a holistic knowledge of their students, from their academic progress to peer interactions – observations not accessible, for the most part, to mental health professionals. Despite this, teachers have largely been absent from the current conversation regarding youth suicide prevention, rendering them a significantly underused resource. Many factors inhibit Leadership Teams from training their teachers, including budget restriction, workload and compliance obligations. As a response to these circumstances, ‘Awaken’, a Gatekeeper Training Package for teachers, was designed to work effectively within the confines of a school structure. Once teacher confidence is enhanced, the focus must then be the development strategies to ensure schools and mental health service providers work in partnership, with open communication, planning and effective models of transition between the school environment and acute care, to ensure a holistic approach is taken to the ongoing care of young people at risk of suicide.
Information on the conference can be found here
I’m so excited about the opportunity to further bring teachers into the conversation about youth suicide prevention.