BERWICK-BASED suicide prevention charity is pushing for mandatory mental health training for secondary school teachers. Kane’s Crusade is a charity started by Fawn Brady, who lost her 23-year-old brother Kane Gillespie in February 2013. Ms Brady and charity co-founder Jessica White are circulating a petition calling for mandatory mental health training for secondary school teachers. Ms White said she and Ms Brady had done one of the courses they wanted teachers to take. She said lives could be saved if teachers were able to recognise depression in students. “Kane was 23 when he died and growing up I don’t think he had mental health issues when he was in school … but for a lot of people who are dealing with (depression) it does start earlier,” she said. “Teachers are with students for the majority of the day … if you see them every day you are going to see (mental health problems) more than the counsellor because (students) have to take the initiative to see a counsellor. “We have been to a few schools and teachers are not aware of this training, but once they are aware of it they said it would be fantastic to learn about it.” Ms White said so far 300 people had emailed her asking for copies of the petition. She said the charity was aiming for 50,000 signatures from across Victoria and would present it to parliament when they had reached their goal.
Department of Education and Training spokesman Stuart Teather said the new SAFEMinds program helped teachers and parents learn how to recognise the signs of students with mental health issues, how to respond and how to refer students to services. “All schools have access to psychologists, speech pathologists and social workers,” he said. “Schools also employ primary welfare officers and student welfare co-ordinators to support to students. “The department has a range of services and supports available for staff, including a 24-hour personal counselling service, and training for principals and leadership teams.” If you would like to circulate a copy of the petition visit facebook.com/Kanescrusade
This article first appeared The Leader, 5 February 2015.