With rural communities suffering due to the twin calamities of drought and COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to improve rural access to mental health, according to White Cloud CEO Professor Adam Scott.
Health care groups have warned suicide rates in Australia could rise by up to 50 per cent due to the economic and social ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This may be exacerbated in rural and regional Australia, which has less readily available access to mental health care.
Professor Scott said while the current mental health system works “very well” in metropolitan areas, it needs to be adjusted for rural and regional Australians.
“There are gaps in our rural and regional locations,” he said.
“We actively encourage our patients to seek out their GP support, but we also know there is a huge stigma involved in accessing that support in our rural areas.
“So what we want to be able to do is change our model of care but still deliver the same conventional, high quality treatment to our rural locations.
“So if we can enable access for people to be able to access it from home, via self referral, via a nurse referral, via allied health referral, from their GPs, then anyway we can supply this support earlier, because this is a suicide prevention plan.
“It’s about getting connected.”
Anyone who may be feeling distressed can contact the following organisations for support:
SANE Helpline 1800 18 72 63
Lifeline 131 114
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636