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Professor Nicholas Procter


Professor Nicholas Procter is Chair: Mental Health Nursing and leader of UniSA’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research Group. Working as a Communities of Practice, the group brings together consumers, clinicians, policy makers and academic faculty. Professor Procter has a longstanding interest in trauma informed practice, mental health and suicide prevention, and has published widely on this topic. In 2017 he commenced a national targeted suicide prevention program for NGO sector workers supporting asylum seekers and refugees in the Australian community. This work will continue throughout 2019.

Professor Procter has been a chief investigator on A$5.7m of grant funding over the past five years. He has completed advanced training in violence triage with the International Association for Forensic Mental Health Services and as a Psychological Autopsy Investigator with the American Association of Suicidology. He is a three time recipient of the University Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Community Engagement, and author of Mental Health: A Person-centred Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2014). With CUP the oldest publishing house in the world, it was the first mental health nursing title by this publisher in 500 years. A second edition was published in 2017. In 2017 Professor Procter was awarded the Partnering with Lived Experience Award (as leader of the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research Group) and the Dr Margaret Tobin Award at the South Australian Mental Health Excellence Awards.

Abstract – Annual Research Symposium – 6 November 2019

Mental deterioration and suicidality for boat arrived refugees and asylum seekers living on temporary visas in Australia: Understanding and responding

Boat arrived refugees and asylum seekers to Australia confront specific challenges that place them at increased risk of mental distress, mental deterioration and suicidality. Torture and trauma history, separation from family, mandatory immigration detention, social isolation, loss, and post-arrival stressors compound additional stressors such as prolonged and indefinite uncertainty regarding refugee status determination. In the past four years there have been at least 21 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths among this group, with five deaths occurring in 2018. This equates to a standardised suicide rate of approximately 33 per 100,000 for male asylum seekers, significantly higher than for males in the general population of Australia (19.2/100,000). Many among this group have been under significant psychological strain waiting up to six years to have their refugee protection claims assessed.

This presentation will examine some of the drivers for suicide related distress for boat arrived refugees and asylum seekers and describe a 2-day community based suicide prevention education program funded through an online crowdfunding campaign at the University of South Australia. The program content was developed through the combined elements of expert knowledge, research evidence and lived experience of refugee and asylum seeker suicidality. The suicide prevention program has been delivered to more than 400 non-government sector workers and volunteers across Australia who are at the frontline of providing support to refugees and asylum seekers. Preliminary analysis of data arising from a repeated measures design into the impact of the educational intervention upon worker attitudes and confidence will be presented and discussed.

For more information and to RSVP (free event) go to the Annual Research Symposium page.

Abstract – Clinical Master Class – 31 July 2018

Mental deterioration and suicidality for refugees and asylum seekers in the ‘fast track assessment’ caseload: Understanding and responding

This presentation will focus on risk and protective factors for asylum seeker suicide, the drivers for suicide related distress, the importance of taking a person-centred, trauma-informed approach to suicide prevention and safety planning. Safety planning involves a co-developed, personalised list of strategies and sources of support for use before and/or during suicide related distress. The presentation’s importance is underlined by knowledge that people of refugee and asylum seeker background are at an increased risk of ending their life compared to the national Australian population, yet few suicide prevention strategies directly target these individuals.

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