MATES in Construction to hold workshops in Tumby, Port Lincoln

MATES providing skills for mental health first aid

Lower Eyre residents are being invited to learn more about how they can be proactive and prepared to help reduced suicide in their communities through some free workshops in the region this week.

MATES in Construction is bringing its free safeTALK sessions to Tumby Bay on Thursday, March 24 and to Port Lincoln on Friday, March 25, an initiative funded by Country SA Primary Health Network.

The program helps to equip people to look out for signs in others that they may be struggling and provide skills in how to offer help.

Beacon of Hope Tumby Bay chairperson Danica Gates has been involved in bringing the program to the region and said it was important to make sure something like this was available to the community.

"Anyone can do it and it's really about counterbalancing social risk factors by increasing protective factors," she said.

"It's building community skills and capacity as community members because if you see people every day you are able to notice changes in behaviour and also know when they've had a life event, know when something's happened."

Mrs Gates said safeTALK was similar to learning first aid, as it was about helping someone in need and preserve their life.

MATES in Construction is focused on helping to reduce the high level of suicide in the construction industry and other blue collar industries.

The work in regional areas is made possible through funding from Country SA PHN which helps the organisation run sessions free of charge.

Mrs Gates said the recent COVID-19 pandemic had posed its own challenges with increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, however the community could do its bit to help identify the signs of when someone needed help.

"We can't have control over a lot of risk factors, but we can strengthen the community's ability to respond, be more proactive and be more prepared," she said.

Mrs Gates said if successful there was the chance to bring Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) which equips people with the skills comparable to a first aid officer to help people contemplating suicide and help them feel safe.

The safeTALK program will be run across four hours in Tumby Bay and Port Lincoln, for more information on the organisation and to book a spot in one of the sessions visit the MATES in Construction SA Facebook page.