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Melbourne Mental Health Conference

  • : Melbourne VIC 3000

Do you work in a hospital, in primary care, or in the community? Do you regularly care for people with a concurrent mental illness? Even if you are highly experienced in your speciality, are you confident in your knowledge of common mental health conditions? Many people who suffer from a mental illness will be admitted into a hospital or will enter a primary care clinic. Attend this conference to better understand:

  • Mythbusting borderline personality disorder
  • When trauma lingers – a look at PTSD
  • The unsavoury effects of antipsychotic medications
  • How to perform a mental health examination
  • How to reduce your level of unconscious bias
  • How to call time on wine o’clock and much, much more…
Schedule Day One



Geoff Ahern

When Trauma Lingers…

Many of us experience trauma. It is not always from typical traumatic events that can threaten our health and safety. Some of us may go on to further experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress or have a diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What if a patient in your care is experiencing this? Providing comprehensive mental health care that is considerate of a person’s holistic needs is essential if we are to prevent re-traumatisation while in hospital. This session considers practical approaches to supporting a person with PTSD to feel safe during a hospital stay. It includes:

  • What is trauma and how does it affect a person?
  • What are the co-morbidities that are commonly associated with PTSD?
  • How can we communicate with highly traumatised people?
  • How do we treat trauma related mental illness and where can you refer a patient for help?


Geoff Ahern

The Psychology of Dependence

Why do some people develop a dependence on alcohol or other drugs, while others do not? Nurses in a range of specialities and settings are likely to come into contact with people who have become addicted to one or more substances of dependence. An understanding of the psychology of dependence is essential if we are to provide care that is evidence-based, holistic, and free from stigma. This session will uncover:

  • The brain and addiction – what do we know?
  • What are the strongest influences on a dependence developing?
  • Why is dependence considered a chronic disease?
  • How is a person supported to manage a dependence?



Ella Smith

A Practical Guide to Performing a Mental Health Examination

It is essential that all nurses, not just those working in mental health settings, have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to perform a mental health examination. This practical session will draw on relevant case studies to demonstrate how to assess a person who has a mental illness and may be experiencing mental distress. It includes:

  • What are the basic principles of a mental health examination?
  • When would you need to conduct an MSE?
  • How to differentiate between symptoms of schizophrenia/drug induced psychosis/delirium
  • When should you escalate or refer to specialist mental health services?


Ella Smith

How to Take a Drug and Alcohol History

How often do people in your care present with a co-existing or past history of drug and/or alcohol use? It is essential that all nurses remain up-to-date in the appropriate care of those with a history of substance use. If you encounter patients who experience dependence or demonstrate related behaviours, assessment skills are essential. Are you confident you could undertake a comprehensive assessment of a person who has used or is using drugs or alcohol? This session reviews:

  • When you should enquire about a person’s substance use
  • What type of questions to ask
  • Delirium Tremens
  • What to do if your assessment points towards a substance use disorder



Owen Connolly

Recognising and Responding to Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts

What would you say and how would you respond to a person who has disclosed self-harm or suicidal thought? How would you ensure their safety? A risk assessment is essential if we are to recognise a change in a person’s mental state that may place them in danger of self-harm or suicide. This session looks at how to recognise and respond to a person who may be experiencing self-harm or suicidal thoughts. It includes:

  • What’s the difference between self-harm and suicidal thoughts?
  • What are the common triggers for these feelings?
  • How is a risk assessment conducted?
  • What are the approaches to managing patients who present with self-harm or suicidal thoughts?



Geoff Ahern

Recognising Red Flags – Practical De-Escalation Techniques

Stopping smaller incidents from “blowing up” is much more favourable than dealing with a critical incident. It is known that, aside from body language, not only what we say but how we say things is what makes a difference between a violent situation escalating or being defused. This may ultimately be the difference between you being injured or staying safe. This helpful session will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • Identify subtle changes in behaviour that may be a warning sign of aggression
  • Role play the following verbal communication strategies to defuse violence:
    • Words
    • Tone
    • Pitch
    • Pacing
    • Respond calmly with a trauma-informed approach


Day Two



Amanda Wynne

From Mistakes, We Learn…

People who enter a general setting with a physical illness and have a concurrent mental illness require all of their care needs to be met. This session will draw on relevant case studies, where mental health care may have been sub-optimal in a general health setting. In so doing, it will reinforce key legal and professional issues relevant to the care of a person with a mental health illness in a general health setting. It will consider the significance of:

  • Thorough risk assessment
  • Clear communication
  • Correct documentation
  • Prevention of medication errors


Trudy Brown

The Unsavoury Effects of Psychotropic Medications

There is a range of commonly prescribed medicines for mental health conditions that can have a significant impact on a person’s physical health. Metabolic syndrome associated with the use of antipsychotic medications can create a cascade of poor health outcomes. However, with careful monitoring, identification of risk, and correct treatment, the progression to type II diabetes can be prevented. This session looks at:

  • What is metabolic syndrome?
  • Why is it linked to antipsychotic agents?
  • What factors lead to patient vulnerability to metabolic syndrome?
  • Why is appetite affected with such medications?
  • Can we reduce the progression of metabolic syndrome to type II diabetes?
  • How can monitoring make a difference?



Geoff Ahern

Understanding Personality Disorders – Sorting Myths from Facts

Personality disorders are some of the most complex mental illnesses. They can be associated with deeply ingrained, extreme, inflexible, and maladaptive patterns of relating to and perceiving both the environment and themselves. There is a need for all nurses to identify and clearly understand personality disorders if people in your care are to receive the best possible health outcomes. This session will include:

  • How are the terms “personality” and “personality disorder” defined?
  • What are the characteristics of a personality disorder?
  • Why can they be challenging?
  • What are some effective communication strategies when caring for people with a personality disorder?


Associate Professor Louis Roller

Beware! Antidepressants in Older Adults

Antidepressant medicines are one of our most commonly prescribed medicines. In older adults we must be aware of the possibility of profound side effects that are particularly potent to this vulnerable groups. This session will highlight the issues surrounding the prescription of antidepressants. You will learn about:

  • How an older adult is deemed suitable to start on an antidepressant medication
  • Monitoring for wanted and unwanted effects
  • Interactions with over-the-counter medicines
  • Deprescribing antidepressants or changing treatment
  • Evidence on psychotherapy, nutrition, and other adjunctive therapies



Dr Martin Jackson

Calling Time on Wine O’clock?

Recent studies have shown that baby boomers are drinking more than millennials. Worryingly, wine has become somewhat of a normalised source of self-medication for many women. While it may seem ok to have a wine to “take the edge off” a stressful day, this unhealthy habit is having detrimental impacts on health. Let’s discuss:

  • Why are women drinking more than ever?
  • What would constitute an unhealthy habit and how can you identify this?
  • How can we promote healthier habits in women?
  • When might it time to put an end to wine o’clock?



Ruth Oliver

Unconscious Bias – We’re All Guilty

We all have different life stories and different frames of reference on the world. As a nurse, recognising unconscious bias towards patients can influence the way health care is provided. This subtle and often unexplored part of ourselves can have an enormous impact on how effectively we do our work. This session will help you understand:

  • What is unconscious bias?
  • What is the impact of unconscious bias in the workplace?
  • How do we recognise the degree of our unconscious bias?
  • How do we reduce your level of unconscious bias?


The Goal Need for Program

People who enter a general healthcare setting with a physical health complication and also have a concurrent mental illness must receive comprehensive care. The ability of nurses and other health professionals to provide holistic health care to all people with a co-existing mental illness is highly dependent on a sound knowledge base. There is a timely need for an evidence-based update on a range of common mental health disorders and conditions so that informed health professionals are better positioned to support a person with a mental illness.

Purpose of Program

To provide nurses and other health professionals who work across a range of general healthcare settings with a comprehensive update on common mental illnesses so as to improve a person’s health outcomes.

Your learning outcomes:

People in your care who have a concurrent mental illness will experience a trauma-informed approach to care

Your improved understanding of mental illness will result in greater patient satisfaction in general healthcare environments

People hospitalised with a physical health complication who have a concurrent mental illness will feel safe and secure as a result of practical techniques being employed

You will establish clear personal boundaries and maintain them to promote a strong, safe therapeutic alliance


Geoffrey Ahern

Geoffrey Ahern

Geoffrey Ahern is a senior mental health clinician and educator who splits his time between working with people in a ... Read More

Ella  Smith

Ella Smith

Ella Smith currently works as a Nurse Practitioner with Victoria Police overseeing the physical and mental health of detainees in ...Read More

Owen Connolly

Owen Connolly

Owen Connolly is an endorsed Mental Health Nurse Practitioner with a scope of practice in mental health and suicide prevention. ... Read More

Trudy Brown

Trudy Brown

Trudy Brown is a Nurse Practitioner, specialising in mental health. She has experience working in inpatient units for the last ... Read More

Louis Roller

Louis Roller

Associate Professor Louis Roller has been an academic at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Monash University for over ... Read More

Ruth Oliver

Ruth Oliver

Because of the diverse training that Ruth Oliver has undertaken and the paths she has chosen in her life, she ... Read More

Amanda Wynne

Amanda Wynne

Amanda Wynne is a barrister at the Victorian Bar whose practice includes family law, child abuse, family violence, mental health, ... Read More

Martin Jackson

Martin Jackson

Dr Martin Jackson has worked as a clinical neuropsychologist for 30 years in acute hospitals, rehabilitation, and community settings, as ... Read More

Melbourne Mental Health Conference
Speciality Classification
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11 Hours | 15 Mins
11 Hours | 15 Mins
Melbourne VIC 3000
Oaks On Collins , 480 Collins St
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