Using contemporary educational practice to improve rural and remote practitioners’ responses to mental health presentations

Ms Amanda North1, Ms Julie Moran1

1Cranaplus, Cairns, Australia


This presentation will outline the design and delivery of a new Mental Health Emergencies course, which aims to improve rural and remote practitioners’ response to the often-marginalised people who present with mental health needs.

With increased remoteness availability of mental health professionals decreases (AIHW 2015), with generalist health practitioners often being required to provide mental health care, particularly for acute presentations. However, we know that nurses consistently identify they do not have the skills or knowledge to assess and treat mental health presentations (Clark, Parker and Gould 2005 pp.210-211).

Several issues can prevent practitioners from accessing high quality and hands-on upskilling that is contextualised for rural and remote practice. These include: travel, accommodation & course costs and difficulty getting released.

The isolation issues are compounded by learning barriers including: poor internet connectivity, low digital literacy, limited time for study, courses that are content heavy and limited access to industry expertise and practice opportunities.

The presentation will demonstrate how the MHE course:
1. Provides a simple, easy to remember framework to guide clinical practice.
2. Aligns with clinical practice guidelines (such as CARPA and PCCM). Our aim is to meet local, state, national and global audience needs.
3. Creates visually scaffolded content for online scanning.
4. Uses scenario based and critical reflection approaches to promote deeper learning that is transferable.
5. Provides practice and coaching/mentoring by industry expert/s.
6. Provides multiple delivery methodologies e.g. blended (online plus face-face workshop), fully online i.e. with virtual workshop, access to content online or via USB.
7. Promotes networking and support between practitioners.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2015. Mental Health Workforce.

Clark, C., Parker, E. & Gould, T. 2005. Rural generalist nurses’perceptions of the effectiveness of their therapeutic interventions for patients with mental illness. Australian Journal of Rural Health. 13: 205-213.


Julie Moran BAppSc GradDipAdultEd

Curriculum Development Officer CRANAplus

Amanda North RN BNurs MNurs (Mental Health)

Remote Clinical Educator Mental Health CRANAplus