A day in the life – John Hannan

Date published

24 Jan 2019

For Cairns Mental Health Clinical Practitioner, John Hannan, no two days in his line of work are ever the same. Flexibility and spontaneity are required to ensure every client seen is helped. This is a day in the life of John Hannan.

This morning we landed at the airstrip in Cape York. This place is landlocked during the wet season and fresh vegetables let alone fuel become hard to come by. Crocodiles inhabit the waterway 30 yards behind the main street and bulls and horses roam freely. The town is majority Indigenous locals along with some teachers, nurses and other temporary service staff who come from the mainstream cities.

Mens Group

During my trips to these rural towns, I occasionally run workshops around domestic violence for local men and today we talked about the impact of trauma and how intimate partner homicide is causally impacted by poverty. A young man decided to speak up and without batting an eyelid he recounted a dozen traumatic events he witnessed around his family as a young child and growing up. If any one of these happened in your family you would talk forever about the tragic time but he works hard to not pass on the trauma he experienced to his young family.

In locations like this there is no desk for me to work at let alone a counselling room. Luckily, I have many of the same clients that I’ve known over the years and I’m able to walk to their house to check in on them and how they’re going.

Today as I was walking through town, a vehicle pulled over and a respected older man has a chat to me about someone who he was concerned for. The person, who I have not met, sounded to be hostile and was leaping out at vehicles. I do a welfare check and it was clear he had no interest in engaging with me. I followed up with his family and then got in contact with the Queensland Health Mental Health team as he’ll need an intervention. Once this happens and he receives the help and medication he needs from Queensland Health he will return to my case-list and I’ll be able to help him through his therapy.

At midday, I had a phone conference with the RFDS Cairns Base and RFDS Brisbane Base to discuss changes in the latest round of funding requirements.


After lunch, I received a visit from one of my clients who was in a state of distress. It became clear that he was using displays of anger to emphasise urgency – I managed to calm him down and find out his partner was using unthinkable threats to stop him from leaving her as well as spreading untrue rumours through his family. He was distraught and sobbed as he recounted these events – situations like this is a standard fare in my line of work.

We spent the rest of the day together and drove out to his country where he poured water over my head and talked to past elders to ensure my safety against the creature we could see floating mid river.

Another one of my clients joined us for the drive which I was happy about. Late last week he was referred to me at the hospital from a mild injury he received while heavily intoxicated. He talked about being embarrassed at his intoxicated and emotional condition and discussed the possibility of rehab agreeing to come in for a phone assessment with Shanty Creek Rehabilitation.

Once we finished talking, I headed home for the day. I spent some time writing up case notes from the day to be uploaded in the morning and then had phone call with my family before dropping in to the local men’s group.