Stronger Smarter Yarns for life – early suicide prevention training for Indigenous and non-indigenous people. Independent Evaluation Report from ANU

ConNetica Consulting in collaboration with the OzHelp Foundation and Strong Smart Solutions developed and commenced delivery of the training program Stronger Smarter Yarns for Life in 2016. Stronger Smarter Yarns for Life is a very early suicide prevention program that was developed with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-indigenous people.

Programs are always delivered by 2 facilitators, with one always being an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The program aims to increase participants’ knowledge, skills and confidence to have yarns with others who are starting to show signs of distress or are facing a personal crisis.  It is expected that yarns will aid effective coping and reduce the risk of suicidal thinking and behaviour in the community.

Key program elements include information and related activities on:

·         an awareness of the prevalence of mental illness and suicide in Australia generally and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

·         a strengths-based approach to social support and suicide prevention

·         an understanding of the unique factors contributing to thoughts of suicide for indigenous people

·         the skills and knowledge to identify signs and debunk social myths

·         tailored indigenous mental health yarning planning tools

·         suitable referrals, support options and resources at local and national levels.

The program includes specific cultural issues in particular the impact of colonisation on the health and wellbeing of First Nations People. Stronger Smarter Yarns for Life incorporates a range of learning mediums - small and large group discussion, personal reflection, yarn planning tool, role plays and available services/resources.

ConNetica engaged the Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) at the Australian National University to undertake this evaluation of the training program. A total of 249 people undertook pre and post course evaluations and the results were analysed by the ANU team. Most importantly, the researchers found the Stronger Smarter Yarns for Life program achieved “outstanding results”.

 

From the Evaluation Report conclusions:

 

“The assessment of Stronger Smarter Yarns for Life obtained outstanding results. The attendees were mostly very satisfied with different aspects of the organisation of the course, such as the material and the presenter. Moreover, they mostly thought that the content was relevant. Finally, they did not feel any distress during the program, and they would recommend it.

“The majority of participants reported a statistically significant increase in their knowledge about the prevention of suicide. They reported improved skills to engage in a yarn to reduce the suicide risk of a person, including knowing when a yarn is required, to find the right moment to engage in the yarn, help another person express their thoughts and feelings, to adopt a respectful approach, to follow practical steps and take action if needed and, finally, to refer the person for help. Moreover, most participants were willing to engage in the yarn, to work out the practical steps learnt and take action if needed, and to refer the person for help.

“The scope for improvement of Stronger Smarter Yarns for Life course is reduced since the results of the assessment were extremely positive.”

Please see the link at the bottom of this blog post to view the full report.