Rural Mental Health Crisis

Date published

22 Jan 2018

Each year, around one in five, or 960,000, remote and rural Australians experience a mental disorder. The prevalence of mental disorders in remote and rural Australia is the same as that in major cities, making mental disorders one of the few illnesses that does not have higher prevalence rates in country Australia compared to city areas. 

Access to Mental Health Services


However major disparities between country and city services still exist, despite numerous government reviews designed to address the problem, says Martin Laverty, CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

"We see [more remote] people only accessing mental health services at … 20 per cent the rate of those who access services in the city," Mr Laverty said.

"If that's not a crisis, I don't know what a crisis is."

In the last year the Flying Doctors have seen 24,500 people to provide mental health counselling.

"We could double or triple that service tomorrow and still not touch the surface," Mr Laverty said.

Data from the Department of Health showed the number of registered psychologists across the country increased in 2015/16. But there were 15 rural and remote areas with no registered psychologists.

Mr Laverty said areas like west coast Tasmania, central Australia, western Queensland and the Kimberley in Western Australia missed out.

"Areas where perhaps you're not surprised to see that there aren't health professionals in abundance," he said.

"That should be no excuse in a country of universal access to healthcare." 

Read more:

Mental Health by Remoteness


If you or anyone you know needs help:

Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890