Research projects

The Mental Health Aptitudes into Practice Project (The MAP Project)

Principal researchers

Professor Graham Meadows1, Dr Amanda Favilla1, Annette Graham1, Jill Gray1, John Julian1, Penny Mitchell2, Anna Stiller1

Institution

1 Monash University

2 University of Melbourne

Funding

$1,500,000

Award type

beyondblue Grant

Project completion year

2006

Project brief

The Mental health Aptitudes into Practice (MAP) project has been one of the largest mental health training projects undertaken in Australia. It was designed to deliver training to personnel in the non-medical primary care health and welfare sector in all areas of Victoria through Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs).

The target population was non-medical primary care workers whose work brought them into regular contact with people experiencing, or at risk of, depression and other related mental health problems. This large grouping included a wide range of health care and community service workers (including volunteers) who were at the ‛coalface’ and who may not have been exposed to specialist training on mental health issues beforehand. 

The following workforces were target groups for the training:

  • Accommodation services (e.g. SAAP)
  • Aged Care Assessment
  • Centres Against Sexual Assault
  • Child Protection services
  • Community Health Services
  • Dental Health
  • Disability services
  • Division of General Practice staff
  • Domestic/Family Violence services
  • Drug and Alcohol services
  • Employment assistance & support services
  • Ethno-specific health and welfare services
  • Home and Community Care (HACC)
  • Justice system services
  • Koori Health Services
  • Maternal and Child Health services
  • Neighbourhood Houses
  • Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Disability Support Services
  • Post-Acute Care and General Hospital staff
  • Regional Health Promotion Officers
  • Royal District Nursing Services
  • School Counsellors
  • School Nurses
  • Sexual health services
  • Women’s Health Services
  • Youth services
  • Other welfare and social support agencies

The MAP training aimed to:

  • enhance awareness and understanding of depression, anxiety and related disorders
  • improve attitudes towards the importance of effective treatment, early intervention, prevention and mental health promotion programs
  • develop skills in the identification and engagement of individuals and groups who could benefit from intervention.

Seven training content areas were isolated through a needs study and consultation, and training modules were produced on each of these. The seven modules were developed to allow for differing levels of education status of participants. The list below shows the stepped model of the seven training modules.

Cert III & Cert IV level workers and inexperienced Diploma level workers

  • Module 1: Introduction to Mental Health and Mental Illness
  • Module 2: Introduction to Depression
  • Module 3: Anxiety and its treatment
  • Module 5: Risk Indicators 

Degree level workers and experienced Diploma level workers

  • Module 3: Anxiety and its treatment
  • Module 4: Depression – Treatment, Prevention & Relapse
  • Module 5: Risk Indicators 
  • Module 6: Communication and Complex Needs
  • Module 7: Population Health and Community Models for Mental Health Improvement

A major evaluation component of the project was undertaken to determine the effectiveness of the training program. The influence of the training on the participants’ knowledge, attitudes and skills was assessed, including whether changes were maintained over the long-term.

Main outcomes

Training was delivered in close collaboration with Primary Mental Health and Early Intervention Teams (PMH&EITs) and other local providers and at the geographic level of Primary Care Partnerships. The MAP project trained a total of 2,043 individuals with 5,604 attendances occurring at full day training workshops. A total of 271 workshops were held around Victoria, including isolated rural areas and regional areas in locations advised by Primary Care Partnerships. It offered on average eight training days to each Primary Care Partnership and achieved the major aim of providing accessible training in each area of Victoria through the Primary Care Partnerships.

Those who received three or more modules of MAP training were invited to participate in a formal evaluation of their training. Three hundred and seventeen individuals completed two questionnaires. One questionnaire was completed prior to MAP training and one immediately after MAP training. 

Key findings

Analysis of the questionnaires found that MAP training reached a diverse group of the mental health primary care workforce. Changes were examined in the areas of self-rated knowledge, skills, and confidence and mental health literacy as assessed through standardised questionnaires. Across all measures substantial and positive improvements were found. 

It was found that MAP training led to significant improvements in:

  • skills and knowledge relating to the treatment of someone with mental health problems
  • confidence in dealing with someone with mental health problems
  • mental health literacy.

These findings provide substantial support for the positive effects of the MAP training modules on the staff groups who undertook the training.

Next steps and potential developments

A broad range of options exists in terms of the use and development of the original MAP material.  These options include:

  • Use of the current material, unchanged or with minor change and updating, for delivery to targeted workforce groups in Victoria or other States.
  • Use of the current material as a base to develop other training programs.
  • Development of a web-based mental health course on high prevalence mental health disorders that can be accessed and used by a wide range of occupational categories.
  • Use of MAP material as part of new developments, such as mental health training for other professional groups.

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