Improving access to mental health services and support in rural communities is a priority for the Coalition Government, but it also requires support from other sectors and partners, said the Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash.
Speaking at the 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium in Albury (NSW), Minister Nash said: “Improving mental health care and services throughout Australia requires a collaborative effort from all levels of government, as well as non- government organisations and the private sector.
“The Government will later this month receive the review of mental health services and programmes by the National Mental Health Commission.
“This important review is examining existing mental health services and programmes across all levels of government, and the private and non-government sectors.
“The review will ensure services are properly targeted at patients, not duplicated, and not unnecessarily burdened by red tape.”
Minister Nash said mental health was a vital aspect of overall health and wellbeing for rural people.
“Our rural communities and families suffer stresses and illness just like others do. They need help with challenges such as depression, anxiety and suicide.
“The Australian Government is committed to improving services so that they can receive the support they need.”
Minister Nash said the Government was already working to improve rural mental health services by increasing the rural health workforce, expanding the network of headspace youth mental health centres, and providing telephone and internet services including for treatment and counselling.
Minister Nash said a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed there were 15.8 million mental health-related GP contacts in 2012-13.
“GPs throughout Australia clearly play an important frontline role in the delivery of mental health services. The Government’s recent announcement of reforms to the system of classifying ‘remoteness’ will better direct incentives to doctors and health professionals to work in rural and remote communities, which find it hardest to attract them.”
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