Rural residents need more than a quick-fix approach to mental health

One in five Australians in the past year encountered a mental health condition of some type. Photo: Angela Wylie

Field days and agricultural shows are big events in country Australia. Farming families travel for hours to see the latest in tractor technology, soil seeding, or water conservation techniques. They mostly travel just to meet others and have a chat.

In recent years, new exhibitors have established themselves among the livestock and paddock demonstrations also wanting to have a chat. These exhibitors, such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, are providing mental health and wellbeing checks.

For some country residents, a mental health check at a field day may be the only face-to-face mental health care they encounter. The Council of Australian Governments’ Reform Council data tells us only half of remote area residents needing mental health care actually receive it, when compared to people accessing mental health care in cities.

One in five Australians in the past year encountered a mental health condition of some type, according to a June report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Myth suggests a disproportionate number of these one in five people live in rural and remote areas, fuelling incorrect assumptions that the act of living in a rural or remote area contributes to the risk of mental illness.

Read the full story by Martin Laverty, The Age, 12 November 2014.

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