11h CPDSeminar

Mental Health Crisis: Practical Responses Seminar

Two-Day Seminar for Nurses, Midwives and Other Healthcare Professionals


12 - 13 Oct 2020
Oaks On Collins
480 Collins St
Melbourne VIC3000

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Why Attend

Every year, an estimated one in five Australians will experience a mental health disorder, and some of them will go through a mental health crisis. These people will pass through the healthcare system and you may encounter them, even if you do not work in a mental health care setting. Will you be ready to respond to their health needs? Attend this seminar to make a difference in your practice. Learn about:

  • What is a mental health crisis?
  • How can we help someone deal with a panic attack?
  • What is the role of a crisis plan?
  • How can we respond to patients if their crisis involves a suicide risk?
  • Is there a difference between severe psychotic episodes and psychosis?
  • And much more...

Need for Program

Every year, many Australians experience a mental health crisis. A lot of them may present to healthcare professionals who do not have a mental health background and who may be under-equipped to respond. Because of this, there is a need for nurses and other healthcare professionals to identify and clearly understand mental health crises and to update their knowledge on the best way to manage a person with these conditions.

Purpose of Program

This program aims to provide nurses and other healthcare professionals with up-to-date education about mental illness that relates to mental health crises of different causes and presentations and how to respond to them.

Your Learning Outcomes

  1. Confidently perform mental health assessments
  2. Understand the different causes of mental health crises and outline the best way to respond to them using practical methods
  3. Develop therapeutic relationships when caring for those going through a mental health crisis
  4. Support carers of individuals going through a mental health crisis


Day One

8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


What Is a Mental Health Crisis?

In this introductory session, we will explore the definition of a mental health crisis. This will enable you to have clarity on ascertaining the level of urgency in your response to care. Discuss:

  • Typical situations that may lead to a mental health crisis
  • Attention ‘seeking’ or attention ‘needing’
  • Stigma and judgement within healthcare towards a person living with BPD who presents in crisis
  • Simple strategies to get better outcomes when a person living with BPD presents in crisis


Acute Mental Health Assessment in a Crisis

It is essential that all nurses are confident to deal with a mental health crisis in any health setting. This practical session looks at how to assess an acutely unwell person with a mental health disorder. It includes:

  • Should a physical assessment precede a mental health assessment?
  • Why is it vitally important that you conduct a brief MSE when a person presents in crisis?
  • What are the basic principles of mental health assessment tools?
  • Does an assessment vary according to the severity of the crisis?

10:45am - Morning Tea


Supporting Carers and the Role of Crisis Plans

Although most people with mental health conditions may not experience a crisis, in some individuals it may be an omnipresent threat. For families and carers, the possibility of a mental health crisis can weigh heavily on day-to-day life creating anticipatory anxiety. Having a back-up plan is essential. This session looks at:

  • What is the role of health professionals in supporting carers in the community?
  • What is included in a crisis plan?
  • Why should we be listening to the carers?


Prevention Is Better than Crisis!

Although it is not always possible to predict when a person may experience a mental health crisis, an appropriate plan of care should assist in diverting such an episode. This session discusses different scenarios and describes strategies for prevention. In this session, we will move away from the traditional, ‘compliance’ model of medication-taking and take a more holistic approach to prevention. It will include:

  • Validating and addressing a client’s concerns about medication side effects
  • Preventing ‘medication holidays’
  • Recognising the warning signs of relapse
  • The role of community and connection as an approach to prevention
  • Why meaning, purpose and reflection is so valuable in severe mental illness, reducing the chances of relapse and crisis
  • Why you should ‘listen to your mother’ - get outside, move and eat your veggies

1:00pm - Lunch and Networking


Developing Therapeutic Relationships in a Time of Crisis

Effective communication is known to help in a time of crisis. Therapeutic communication that is appropriate to the situation can empower all involved to minimise any negative impacts from the incident onto the individual. In this highly interactive workshop session, you will learn how to build therapeutic relationship skills. It includes:

  • Interactive scenarios based on previous sessions
  • What role does body language play?
  • What role does tone play?
  • How to “de-escalate” yourself when confronted with a highly distressed client

3:00pm - Afternoon Tea


Fleeing from your Mind: Dealing with Panic Attacks

Panic attacks manifest as a crisis as the brain initiates the fight, flight or freeze response. This final session of day one focuses on a common, but debilitating, phenomena of the mind. It discusses:

  • What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?
  • What are the triggers and symptoms?
  • What are the long-term consequences of repeated panic attacks?
  • What are the best-evidenced approaches to panic attacks?

4:30pm - Close of Day One of Seminar

Day Two

9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


Crisis with Alcohol Other Drug Use

The use of alcohol, street and other drugs can be a cause of mental health crises, as well as a symptom of an impending crisis. Even if a person is not known to have a diagnosis of substance misuse, these can complicate symptoms of mental health conditions. This session will look at:

  • What type of crises can occur?
  • What is now known about ‘dual diagnosis’ and self-medication?
  • What approach is taken to manage a crisis involving drugs and alcohol?
  • What are the strategies to prevent a crisis?


If a Crisis Involves a Suicide Risk

Although there are often warning signs that a person is contemplating suicide, this is not always the case. In this interactive session, we will focus on:

  • Identifying those at impending risk and why we no longer use ‘risk assessment tools’
  • Caring for a person who has just intentionally tried to take their own life and survived

10:45am - Morning Tea


Severe Psychotic Episodes

When a person presents as floridly psychotic, whether that be because of an illness, such as schizophrenia, or substance use, such as a drug-induced psychosis, how should we respond? This session will look at:

  • Immediate responses to a floridly psychotic person
  • Physical or chemical restraint or both
  • The legalities of restraint and your legal obligations
  • How to decide which medication is the ‘best choice’ for managing a floridly psychotic person


Mental Health Resources

All over Australia mental health teams are struggling to keep up with demand. This session will look at:

  • Referral to CAT teams (or similar) and when it is appropriate
  • Other options for crisis management in the community

1:00pm - Lunch and Networking


Mental Health and Violence

Mental illness and violence - should we be worried? This session will address:

  • The myths around mental illness and violence
  • Why some people become violent
  • How common sense goes a long way in keeping yourself safe
  • Why risk assessment tools are so vitally important
  • Simple strategies to protect yourself should a person be at risk of becoming violent

3:00pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


Pharmacological Causes of Mental Health Crises

Some medicines can have unwanted side effects or cause adverse events that result in acute mental crises. These are not necessarily psychotherapeutic medicine. Topics include:

  • Do you know which medicines the person is taking and their risks?
  • What co-occurring conditions could be treated with medicines that can cause mental health crisis?

4:15pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations

educator image

Geoffrey Ahern

Geoffrey Ahern is a senior mental health clinician and educator who splits his time between working with people in a mental health crisis in the ED setting and working proactively to educate other health professionals and the community about how to better understand mental health problems, as well as substance use and addiction. Over the years, he has gained extensive experience in emergency and trauma, rural nursing, alcohol and other drug counselling, and psychiatric nursing across both the public and private sectors. He holds a masters of health science (mental health and addiction). Geoff is particularly fascinated by the impact that exercise, nutrition, community, meaning and purpose, and practices like yoga have on a person’s mental health, as well as living a simple life of reflection, contentment and wonderment. Read More

Events in other locations

12 - 13 Oct 2020
Oaks On Collins
480 Collins St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
12 - 13 Aug 2021
Mercure Hotel Brisbane
85-87 North Quay
Brisbane, QLD, 4000
26 - 27 Aug 2021
Rydges Sydney Central
28 Albion Street
Surry Hills, NSW, 2010
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Events held in September onwards are scheduled to proceed. We hope to see you at an Ausmed Event soon!