Mental Health Course Graduate Katrina Shade

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Mental Health Course Graduate Speech

At our recent Graduation Elizabeth Koff, Secretary, NSW Health gave an inspiring address to our graduates. Katrina responded on behalf of the graduating student cohort. This was her response.

I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the various lands we are meeting on today and pay my respects to Aboriginal Elders past, present and emerging.

I am honoured to have the opportunity to represent the HETI Higher Education graduating students. We have taken this journey individually and together.

Congratulations to all the graduates, recipients of Certificates, Diploma’s and Master’s. What an amazing achievement.

To introduce myself - I have been a Registered Nurse for 18 years. I have worked in Paediatrics, Child and Family Health Nursing, and I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I currently work in Perinatal Infant Mental Health in Western Sydney. I am here today as a recipient of a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Mental Health Studies – Perinatal Infant Mental Health.

Thank you to Ms Elizabeth Koff, Secretary NSW Health for your words of support and wisdom.

What is a speech without reference to COVID-19? The pandemic situation has impacted our study journey in various ways. Some families have been directly affected with COVID illness; Our hearts and minds have been consumed with the experience of our family and friends overseas; We have experienced changes with the way we work; Some of us added ‘School Teacher’ to our resume with kids not able to attend school; Household members started working from home; And our ability to have social connectedness with friends and extended family was drastically restricted.

Our narratives of this period will all look different. Personally, I think I can thank COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions for cancelling all our extracurricular activities and major social events (as disappointing and hard as that was), it enabled me to work full-time, maintain family cohesion and complete my assignments.

One thing that did not change due to COVID was the delivery of our course. The learning environment of HETI’s online training was underpinned by the principles of adult learning. It was interactive, flexible, relevant, applicable to practice, and conducted in a supportive environment. Our learning modalities comprised of webinars, videos, readings, podcasts, quizzes, forum discussions, reflective exercises, essay and presentation assignments. The flexibility within the course enabled the opportunity to balance life’s demands, work, family and study. Some weeks would sneak by with minimal study being done and other weeks were subsequently dominated by the catch up. Time management was my ally and I would complete course readings on the bus or whilst sitting in the car waiting for my child to participate in martial arts training. I even learned to upload articles to an app that converted text to speech so I could continue learning on the go when COVID turned the bus trip into a drive to work.

We all managed to compliment our lives with our studies because we wanted to. We became creative and drew on our individual strengths to achieve.

The HETI learning platform, course design and delivery provided a user friendly and supportive setting. Rarely did I have to ask my children for IT support. When the kids were not around or ‘too busy’ to provide IT support, Luisa was always a quick message away and it was reassuring to know that she was swift and efficient with her support. Thankyou Luisa.

In undertaking this course, I have been privileged to meet, interact and learn with fellow students and facilitators from a range of professional backgrounds. The inter-professional approach to learning in a speciality field created a learning environment for us to broaden our perceptions and constructs, shared experiences and learn from each other’s professional lived experiences. We shared a common interest and passion to enhance our understanding of mental health. We reflected, analysed and explored the past, present and future of mental health and mental health care.

We have chosen to study with HETI because we have a passion for mental health in one context or another. I am occasionally asked ‘what is perinatal mental health’ or ‘do infants have mental health?’ Anyone that knows me, knows that to ask me this question is to be prepared for passionate and potentially long-winded discussion.

Whether your life span preference is Perinatal and Infant, child and adolescent, adults, older people mental health or psychiatric medicine. As mental health practitioners we do not work in silo, and our speciality life spans cannot be viewed in isolation. As human beings we develop in the context of our experiences. In Perinatal Infant Mental Health, we aim to optimise life experiences from conception. Infant mental wellbeing is embedded within early life experiences and relationships with family, extended family, local community, and broader community – this includes child, youth, adult and older persons and their respective mental health status will impact on an infant’s experience.

Research, science and our clinical experience informs best practice for mental health care that is collaborative, wholistic, person-centred, family and community inclusive. Through HETI we have learned in a recovery-oriented and evidenced based curriculum. Together, we are a powerful movement to improve the health and wellbeing for individuals and communities. Our education though HETI has equipped us with capabilities to motivate improvement in our individual practice, teams, services and organisations. Change won’t happen on its own. Change can be hard and take time and we should not give up. We can model hope, optimism, resilience, self-determination and advocacy in striving for change.

Congratulations to my fellow students. As Elizabeth mentioned, we should celebrate our Graduation as a reward of our hard work. On behalf of us all, thank you to our family, friends and colleagues for your patience and support. Thank you to HETI staff for your commitment and support in our Higher Education.