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Caring & compassionate ...... DEFINITELY! …… Confident & competent …… NOT ALWAYS?

During Covid-19 healthcare workers across the country have been praised for their commitment to reducing the impact of the virus on the community. Rightfully so, they have been lauded for their efforts. But despite these valiant efforts the longer-term impacts of Covid-19 - reducing deaths from viral infections, managing the lifting of restrictions and the economic and social implications will remain significant concerns for most people in Australia over the coming months.

For many of us, working to reduce suicides and improve crisis care, concerns about the Covid-19 consequences for managing suicidal behaviour are right up there. Globally, healthcare leaders have been vocal in their call to flatten the curve, not just the Covid-19 curve but also for the potential increase in mental ill-health and possibly suicide.

And herein lies my concern. Do we have the workforce trained and ready to manage an upsurge in demand? Are our healthcare workers able to deliver not only compassionate care but also feel confident and competent to work with people who are suicidal? How will an already stretched health system be able to respond?

Health systems across Australia can improve their services through understanding and implementing the Zero Suicide Healthcare framework. Its inspirational goal drives healthcare systems to continually improve the quality of care.

Integral to such improvements is training of healthcare workers.

As an advocate for the Zero Suicide Healthcare approach I am working to support health services navigate this approach. To this end the Zero Suicide Institute of Australasia, in partnership with Life In Mind, has developed a directory of training programs that can support health services build the capability of their teams to deliver quality care to people who present with suicidal behaviours.

We all want those who turn to healthcare to have a better experience when feeling suicidal. For those presenting to systems where Zero Suicide Healthcare is practised they will experience that suicidality can be discussed openly, is treated directly and managed in a least restrictive, recovery-oriented way. As they transition through the system they have chosen, no person falls through the cracks.

Zero Suicide promises not only caring and compassionate healthcare workers but also those who are confident and competent to work with people experiencing suicidal behaviours.

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