Nikki is Education and Training Consultant at headspace Australia and a STORM Consultant
Get to know the suicide prevention community in three short questions. Next up is Nikki Gibilisco, Education and Training Consultant at headspace Australia and STORM Consultant
Can you tell us a little about you and your role at headspace?
I currently hold a team lead role in a mental health organisation which has a school-based division, supporting schools in prevention and postvention. I specifically look after a team who deliver training packages to primary and secondary school staff to help identify and support students who may be experiencing mental health symptoms, as well as students who are engaging in self harming behaviours and/or suicidal ideation and behaviour. STORM® Skills Training is part of this support.
My background is varied. I hold a qualification in education and have been a teacher in primary and secondary schools with students aged 5-18. I also have experience in TAFE (Technical and Further Education, a tertiary education system) which saw me inside correctional facilities working with incarcerated people between 15 -53 (my eldest student, when they first walked into my classroom). My exposure and experience working with at-risk students lead me to an increased desire to help and support students in wellbeing and mental health.
What have you learned or done differently during the pandemic?
Like many, we have adapted our training online to include appropriate emotional safety. For example, participants must have their cameras on and must interact with us within the training. Participants also connect with facilitators though texts or messages. The registration form includes each participant’s emergency contact details.
We deliver our training on Zoom. We have found this to be more accessible for participants, as there were some difficulties with Microsoft Teams. We also film as if we were onsite: participants are taken to a separate room (breakout room) and the facilitator films their screen while out of the room. This has removed some hesitation from participants who are concerned with the film being online. This way, the role plays are on a closed-circuit device and is deleted after use from the camera.
How do you think your background in teaching has helped you?
My experience as a teacher provides me with an understanding of the challenges teachers are faced with; the difficulties of connecting and engaging with parents; the time restraints and pressure they face; and the limited mental health training and information provided through their professional training. This base understanding allows me to listen to their experience and problem solve to find solutions they can implement in schools.
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