Lack of rural mental health services puts youth at risk

Originally Published by The Daily Examiner 12th Aug 2015

250815 Rural and Remote

RURAL and regional children are struggling to find the right mental health support according to an in depth Federal report into the mental wellbeing of our youth.

The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents report released by the Federal Ministry for Health revealed startling figures of young people dealing with mental illness.

A lack of access to mental health services in the Clarence Valley and other mitigating factors including cost, distance and privacy are combining to make it difficult for our kids to seek the help they need.

Mental health social worker at Greenway Cottage Jodie Johnson said the difference in government spending puts Clarence children at risk of developing serious mental health issues.

“Our mental health services are very full due to a lack of resources. Most community health services have backlogs up to six months.

“When it comes to dealing with the mental health of children the earlier you get in the better.

“It is really critical that children are looked after from an early age because children are developing all the time and illnesses such as anxiety, depression and ADHD can seriously affect their development process.”

The report also revealed that socio-economic and environmental factors played a major part in the prevalence of mental health issues in youths.

Children who were part of a blended family or a single parent family were twice as likely to be diagnosed with mental illness compared to those living with their original family.

In both of these demographics more than one in five youths were diagnosed with a mental illness and for boys in a single parent families the prevalence of mental illness climbed to one in four.

Ms Johnson is unsure of the first step in combating the problem which has remained the same since the last youth mental illness report in 1998.

“These rates really have not changed since 1989 which is quite scary,” she said.

“Things have not improved even with the increases in funding in the years since.

“The health service in Australia is in a crisis and it is now affecting mental health funding.

“We definitely need improved funding and improved services in regional Australia to help combat the issue.”

View the full article here.

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