2022 Frontline Mental Health Conference: A Recap

This year’s conference: Uniting our first responders to improve mental health care

Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation cohorts Joanne Casey, Hailey Buchhorn and Carla Petty were excited to attend the recent 2022 Frontline Mental Health Conference, which commenced its two day program on Monday the 14th of March. Presented by the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association, this year’s event was ‘designed to explore specialist advice and care for frontline workers and first responders throughout all stages of training, service, and retirement.’

On the back of the important work we do in this space, we were thrilled with the opportunity to not only exhibit at the conference, but also soak up a fantastic program of both in-person and virtual presentations.

Two days of vital conversations

With topics ranging from empowering managers to address mental health in the workplace (a particularly timely discussion in these times of upheaval) to psychosocial concerns for first responders and returning to work after PTSD – themes we are well versed in ourselves – the program was both diverse and rich with vital information. Knowing that 1 in 3 emergency workers suffer from high to very high levels of psychological distress, the statistics are clear: this conversation is essential. And with one police officer, paramedic or firefighter taking their own life every 6 weeks, it needs to be had now.

First responder culture can often perpetuate a stigma against seeking help. By not speaking up, our frontline workers face long-term consequences. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse are just some of the mental health issues that can manifest as the result of repeated exposure to trauma. Connect and collaborate with leaders on the front line, from fire and rescue to police and ambulance officers, defence force personnel, surf lifesaving and SES volunteers.” – The Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association

Our Free Mental Health & Exercise Guidebook

As part of our exhibition, we were pleased to provide delegates with access to our free Mental Health & Exercise Guidebook, which was spearheaded by National Clinical Lead Ben Davis in 2021.

The guidebook is holistic in nature and provides enhanced understanding of the sometimes complex and multidimensional nature of what happens in our bodies when we exercise – both on a psychological and physical level, and more importantly, how the mind and the body interact to contribute to our overall health.

We would like to thank our fellow attendees, exhibitors and all the wonderful speakers for a very significant and productive couple of days. We look forward to the 2023 instalment.

“The program was brilliant, with high quality speakers looking at all aspects of how the pressures and challenges of being a first responder can impact on a person’s mental health.  The focus on both prevention and recovery was good to see, particularly as it placed the person at the centre in control of their response and care” – Joanne Casey, Head of External Relations

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