Mental health

Good mental health is important for everyone and while people living in country Australia are often characterised as being naturally resilient, like everyone they can experience tough times. 

Accessing mental health services in rural and remote areas can be very difficult, with people living in these areas being even more isolated in times of need. 

mental health

Through funding provided by governments and donors, the RFDS works to bridge this gap in access to mental health services. Through regular GP clinics, RFDS doctors provide ongoing mental health care. At the same time dedicated RFDS mental health professionals visit remote towns and properties to provide further treatment, support, as well as education about mental health issues for individuals and communities. 

In 2016/17 RFDS held 24,396 mental health consultations around the country. This is an increase of 72% since the previous year. 

RFDS CEO Martin Laverty said "One in five Australians experience a mental disorder each year. In remote and rural Australia, that means 960,000 each year deal with their mental health. Yet country people can't access the same services as people in the city."

"There's no difference in prevalence of mental illness between city and bush. Yet Flying Doctor research reveals dramatic differences in how sick people become. Poor service access, distance, cost, and continued reluctance to seek help all contribute to higher mental illness acuity."

Graphic: Mental Health research paper

Latest Release

In early 2017 the Royal Flying Doctor Service released a research paper entitled "Mental Health in Rural and Remote Communities".

This new research reveals remote Australians die on average from suicide at twice the rate of city people, yet are only able to access mental health services at a fifth of the rate of city people. It also identifies farmers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identifies people as among the most at risk of suicide.

The research shows there is no difference in common mental health risk factors of family history, stressful events, substance use, and health problems between city and bush, country residents risk exacerbated mental illness because of insufficient early intervention and prevention services.

Infographic of mental health

The research studied a snapshot of 2,567 country Australians flown by air from different parts of country Australia for emergency mental health care by the RFDS from July 2013 to June 2016.

It also outlines the thirteen specific mental health programs operated by the RFDS in the last financial year.
These mental health services range from visiting mental health clinics, 24 hour telehealth services, through to emergency air transfers of people requiring city based acute care.

You can read the full research paper here.

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