New Directions at Mindful - tuning in online

The Mindful Centre for Training and Research in Developmental Health, located in Travancore, is the state-wide unit responsible for the delivery of postgraduate courses, training programs, professional development and research programs in child and adolescent mental health.

Mindful offers a suite of face-to-face training programs for allied health professional and post-graduate students – including training in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); the Developmental Psychiatry Course (DPC); the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Course (CAPC) and Tuning in to Kids (TIK) which comprises a suite of evidence-based parenting programs for Kids, Teens and Dads, that help parents teach their children to understand and regulate their emotions.

Faced with the suspension of face-to-face training in March, and an empty, recently refurbished conference room, the Mindful team of 15 full-time and part-time teaching, clinical and administrative staff began to absorb the shock of, ‘Where to from here?’

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Weekly team zoom catch-ups have afforded staff the opportunity for collective sharing and connection

Weekly team zoom catch-ups have afforded staff the opportunity for collective sharing and connection, as the boundaries between work, home and school blurred during the COVID-19 lockdown. Importantly, the team has also used this time to exchange ideas and expertise on how best to transition Mindful training programs online; to meet the needs of families, and a mental health workforce, under increasing pressure during the pandemic.

Slowly but surely, isolation has led to innovation, and Mindful staff, led by Centre Director, Associate Professor Sandra Radovini, have quietly celebrated the arrival of some wonderful long and short projects and achievements, all while working from home. These include the award of a significant DHHS grant to continue to build capacity and expertise in ASD assessments, support regional centres, and develop online training for Adult MH professionals in ASD diagnostic and treatment approaches. Congratulations to State-Wide ASD Coordinator, Fran Saunders, and her wonderful team, in securing this funding. A suite of the centre’s programs have also moved online for the first time - including the DPC, the CAPC and TIK facilitator training workshops; the Tuning in to Kids website has also been redeveloped and the team have launched a much-anticipated online TIK parenting program for parents and carers.

Dr Catharine McNab, Co-ordinator of the DPC and Dr Paul Robertson, Victorian Director of Advanced Training Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have reported excellent attendance rates since both the DPS and CPC moved seamlessly online in April - in part due to the generosity and flexibility of their clinical teaching staff. Take-up in the online TIK training workshops – developed by Ann Harley, Associate Professor Sophie Havighurst and Dr Christiane Kehoe – has also been swift, with more than half of the eight workshops scheduled in June and July already fully subscribed.

As online delivery opens up new teaching and learning opportunities for both local and overseas participants, the theme of weekly zoom catch-ups is slowly shifting too – from ‘Where to now’ to ‘What will ‘after’ look like’?  The Mindful team are looking forward to returning to a physical campus but are particularly thrilled to be able to offer these online training programs to those families and mental health workers in remote and/or disadvantaged regions where fewer child and adolescent mental health services, and professional development opportunities, exist.

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