Helen Dalton encourages greater focus on rural mental health

Each year approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness.

Some conditions include anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, grief, depression and bi-polar disorders. Many of these conditions can lead sufferers to suicide.

Suicide and suicide attempts result from interaction between many factors in a person’s life, including financial, social or their cultural and individual history.

Evidence shows that suicide can be prevented through all-encompassing policies and a sound mental health plan aimed at individuals and entire communities.

Although we are all aware of the prevalence of suicide in our communities it is often conveniently too statistically unreliable to report the total picture.

Mental health workers, particularly in our rural regional areas are in high demand because the Murrumbidgee Local Health District refuse to fill positions, resulting in sufferers not receiving the treatment they need in a timely manner.

A government program known as the Mental Health Care Plan is a worthy initiative where financial assistance is given to those attending a practitioner face to face.

Often however, local mental health care workers are totally over committed or are not suitable for the patient.

The perceived stigma associated with seeing a practitioner in a small local town often prevents sufferers from seeking help.

Rural Health Information Hub

Rural Health Information Hub

They feel too embarrassed or mentally fragile.

When seeking help patients are often required to travel great distances costing both time and money.  The burden of this falls heavily on our communities.

One suggested solution might be to assist patients to Skype their preferred and available professional and still be eligible for financial assistance in the form of a Medicare rebate from the Mental Health Care Plan.

There are local cases where Skype has been highly successful as a conduit for treatment at the appropriate time. Everyone, including those in remote rural regional communities deserves quality mental health support. Their needs should be front and centre of decision making.

While in theory we are all to receive the support, it often doesn’t in regional areas as often a combination of services and medications are needed to return a patient to good health.