At a glance

“The reported prevalence of mental illness in rural and remote Australia appears similar to that of major cities. However, access to mental health services is substantially more limited than in major cities. Tragically, rates of self-harm and suicide increase with remoteness. (National Rural Health Alliance Inc)

When providing mental health support to a person living in a rural or remote location it is important to consider:

  • people in rural and remote areas generally have greater difficulty accessing the full range of services. It may take someone significantly longer to access support services, and they may have to travel a long way to do so
  • generally suicide and self-harm rates in remote and rural Australia are higher than those in major cities
  • people in rural and remote areas may experience different types of issues to people in the major cities. For example problems with isolation, access to transport, as well as experiencing environmental adversities such as drought, fire, and flood
  • some people may also be more fearful about seeking help with their mental health condition, particularly in smaller communities where people know each other, and there is limited choice for services
  • people in rural and remote areas may be unaware of the range of services that are available or how they can access them
  • some people may not be able to access telehealth or video health services due to problems accessing computers, reliable telephone and internet connections
  • people in rural and remote areas may prefer to receive fact sheets or printed information to take home and review before they feel comfortable talking to someone.

… there are a range of mental health services that can be accessed by people in rural areas on-line or over the phone, including information, counselling and programs.

- A person with lived experience of a mental health condition

 

When supporting someone in a rural or remote location, the most important thing is to see them as a person first, with their individual beliefs, culture and goals, while also understanding the context of their location.

Your support should include:

  • a recovery-oriented approach: focussing on the person and their strengths, and not the condition
  • a holistic approach: considering physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing
  • a person-centred approach: planning and decisions are driven by the person and their needs, interests and goals
  • a trauma-informed approach: providing support in a way that shows knowledge and understanding of how trauma affects people’s lives and service needs
  • empowerment: encouraging people to take control of their lives, and where appropriate, connect with their community.

Each person in a rural or remote location will be different. It is important to avoid stereotyping such as “all country people are down to earth”. Listen, ask and clarify, and build trust by being respectful, reliable and honest.

Resources

Rural Adversity Mental Health Program
This web page provides information about this statewide program that links rural people to the help they need. The program is managed by the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, in partnership with each of the rural NSW Local Health Districts.
Type: Web page
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Produced by: University of Newcastle

Rural Mental Health
This fact sheet provides an overview of rural mental health issues and ways to access help.
Type: Fact Sheet
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Produced by: Lifeline

Supporting yourself - rural and remote people
This website has links to resources and suggests ways to access support.
Type: Website
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Produced by: Head to Health

Mental health helplines
This web page provides links to a range of mental health helplines.
Type: Web page
Estimated reading time: 5 Minutes
Produced by: Health Direct

Let’s talk mental health phone services
This fact sheet provides contact information for a range of services available over the phone.
Type: Fact Sheet
Length: 2 pages
Produced by: Centre for Rural and Remote Health

Let’s talk where to find help for mental health concerns
This fact sheet lists tips for having a conversation with someone you are concerned about. It also suggests ways to find help for mental health concerns.
Type: Fact Sheet
Length: 4 pages
Produced by: Centre for Rural and Remote Health

Current as at: Monday 20 January 2020
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch