Thirty emerging leaders in mental health from across Australia converged in Sydney on the 15th and 16th of June 2016, to learn techniques to translate evidence-informed research and knowledge into effective programs that meet the needs of Australian communities.
Organised by the NSW Mental Health Commission, and sponsored by the National Mental Health Commission, the two-day series of presentations and workshops showed participants how to move innovative ideas in mental health and wellbeing rapidly into practice by fostering strong collaborations across sectors, engaging deeply with stakeholders and learning to summarise their proposal into a one-minute 'elevator pitch'.
The training was delivered by a six-person delegation from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, led by its Vice President, Programs and Priorities, Ed Mantler, the Director of its Knowledge Exchange Centre, Nicholas Watters, and knowledge exchange specialist Liz Wigfull.
The Canadian Commission developed the training program, known as Supporting the Promotion of Activated Research and Knowledge (SPARK), which was being held for the first time in Australia following successful programs in Canada, the USA and New Zealand.
The new SPARK graduates include early and mid-career leaders in Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing, occupational therapy and psychiatry, and several consumers and carers participated.
They will all attend next year's International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) meeting, to be hosted in Sydney by the Commission in partnership with the NSW Ministry of Health, where they will apply their new skills in synthesising the expertise and perspectives of up to 400 delegates, about one-third of whom are expected to travel to Sydney from overseas.
John Feneley, NSW Mental Health Commissioner, said the SPARK training was intended to harness the creativity of a new generation of leaders in mental health. “We were delighted to welcome such a diversity of people with exceptional talents, who truly represent the future of the mental health system in Australia,” Mr Feneley said. “The achievement of the mental health reform plan Living Well in NSW, and other state and national reform agendas, depends on the energy and commitment of people like these new SPARK graduates.”
Mr Feneley also thanked the graduates’ employer organisations for supporting their travel to Sydney for the training and their return in February for IIMHL.