The Gippsland Mental Health Vacation School program has been shown to positively change student participants’ interest and attitudes to living and working in a rural area. A range of factors are impacting on the future viability of the initiative including: limitations on the number of student participants, the reusability of content, staffing, time pressures, a dwindling funding base, and a drop-off in interest in living and working in a rural setting. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
A three-phase Delphi Study was employed to engage with expert knowledge of the program’s key stakeholder groups (student participants and service provider staff) in order to inform the initial steps of shifting the program toward a blended model, distributed across space and time.
The results suggest that: first, the current mode of delivery, a week-long intensive face-to-face format, should be transitioned to a more sustainable blended learning approach that includes both on-line content and an in situ component; and second, trailing the use of social media as a mechanism to maintain student interest in rural mental health work following the vacation school.
This study highlights how the transition to a sustainable approach to the delivery of a novel rural mental health workforce recruitment strategy was informed through a three-phase Delphi Study that involved the key stakeholders (groups of student participants and service provider staff). The study has important implications for addressing the shortage of mental health practitioners in rural areas. It will and be of interest to educators, administrators, researchers and bureaucrats.
This study and work would not have been possible without the willing participation of both students who attended the 2012 Gippsland Mental Health Vacation School program and staff from mental health and alcohol and drug services across Gippsland. No known conflicts of interest.
Willems, J., Sutton, K. and Maybery, D. (2015), "Using a Delphi process to extend a rural mental health workforce recruitment initiative", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 91-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-10-2014-0033Download as .RIS
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