Ruah Community Services Ruah Community Services

Perspectives on Children Families and Mental Health -supporting the WA Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI) Initiative

Workforce Development Training Modules

Ruah Community Services has developed four training modules for workforce development in partnership with the WA COPMI Initiative.

The Workforce Development Workshops have adopted the following principles:

  • Cross-sector collaboration - workers from a range of agencies across sectors attend sessions, to enable sharing of expertise and perspectives
  • Strengths perspective - assessing and building on families' (and workshop participants') strengths rather than focusing on pathology
  • Prevention and early intervention - the training has a focus on subtle rather than dramatic case examples to demonstrate opportunities which support the building of resilience through supporting existing networks where possible
  • Application of theory / frameworks to practice - each session includes a number of practice-related exercises

This training was designed specifically as cross sector training with the goal of building knowledge, skills and relationships across sectors to improve both individual and collaborative responses to the needs of children and to support parenting capacity in families where a parent experiences a mental illness. The emphasis is on early intervention and prevention and is best delivered in local areas or subregions to support collaborative activity.

The training has been designed as a series of three one-day workshops with a focus on key government health and human service sector agencies. Experience in the delivery of the training emphasises the importance of encouraging the participation of non-government organisations, children, youth and family services and the mental health services. This training comes with pre-reading an Overview of Mental Illness and a 'take away' book with additional information and reference material about COPMI.

Workforce Development Training Module 1:

Inside a Family Under Pressure - The Impact Of Mental Illness On The Family

This module was designed to raise awareness of the needs of families with parental mental illness, and to encourage workers to return for further exploration of ways to address some of these needs:

  • Demonstrates the evidence base for the vulnerability of COPMI
  • Demonstrates the protective role of parenting for mental health management, recovery and relapse prevention
  • Describes the key barriers to best practice and good outcomes for children and families
  • Contributes to improved mental health literacy and service system design
  • Provides experiential opportunities for participants to appreciate the impact of mental illness on all family members
  • Offers early intervention, development stages, resilience and strength based approaches to working with families as frameworks to understand what is happening for families and to inform assessments, interventions and collaborative responses
  • Provides opportunities for participants to put these frameworks into practice

Workforce Development Training Module 2:

Awkward Copmi Conversations

This module was designed to address some of the anxieties workers frequently raise when discussing COPMI issues. Despite their interest in or concern for the needs of members of families with parental mental illness, workers express discomfort or awkwardness in talking with them about topics that are outside the scope of their normal role focus:

  • Reviews key concepts from the previous workshop
  • Draws on the practice experience of participants
  • Identifies key conversations that need to be had
  • Includes video material to present the views of families
  • Includes video material to demonstrate 'having a go'
  • Provides opportunities for participants to develop practice skills

Workforce Development Training Module 3:

Collaborative Practice with Families with Parental Mental Illness

This particular piece of training arises out of the expressed needs of workers from several sectors when discussing the challenges of delivering services to children and families where a parent has a mental illness. The workshop allows participants to name issues, draw on their skills and teach each other a great deal about how to collaborate across sectors with this particular group of families in mind:

  • Pre reading article on family focused interagency collaboration
  • Reviews key concepts from the first workshop
  • Draws on the knowledge skills and experience of participants
  • Explores the meaning of collaboration and core principles, practices, values, attitudes and relationships that form the building blocks
  • Provides opportunities to explore collaboration from different perspectives
  • Provides experiential opportunities to develop collaborative relationships with families and other sector service providers
  • Provides opportunities to develop local plans to improve collaboration and service system innovation across sectors for this group of families and children

Workforce Development Training Module 4:

Family Inclusive Training For Adult Public Mental Health Workers

The Statewide COPMI Steering Committee commissioned Ruah to work with a design group representing Adult Mental Health Service management and practitioners. This training utilises and adapts the first three cross sector training packages to support the implementation of the 'Draft Protocol to Enhance Outcomes for COPMI and their Families as they apply to Adult Mental Health'. The training has been trialled and refined for further delivery:

  • Addresses Adult Mental Health Services' mandate for family inclusive practice
  • Improves mental health management, recovery and relapse prevention
  • Supports better short and long term mental health and wellbeing outcomes for children
  • Reduces the 'burden of care' and ensures adequate support to immediate and extended family members
  • Is Consistent with the National Mental Health Standards
  • Takes a Strength based approach
  • Focusses on Early intervention

This training will be delivered as the Mental Health Division and Adult Mental Health Services determine.

Current Status of Training Modules

At this time funding is not available to publish the training packages. The Mental Health Division is currently developing a business case for the future of the COPMI Project, which includes consideration for the continuation of workshop development.

Future Training

A training calendar for 2009-2010 will be provided here shortly

Contact Us


Carol Clark
Phone: 08 92080505
Fax: 08 9443 9015
PO Box 584, Mt Hawthorn, 6915