Service delivery in rural and remote communities is challenged by issues related to distance, isolation and fewer formal services, higher levels of stigma associated with mental health issues and stoicism that influences people’s help-seeking behaviours (Rickwood D, 2006).
Implications for service delivery
- Services should foster partnerships that increase local access to primary health care, specialist physical health care, allied health care, psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery support.
- Non-health services, community groups, local leaders and naturally occurring support networks are vital recovery partners in rural and remote communities, as are schools, churches, the police, local businesses and clubs. Servicing more remote communities with fewer formal services will require broader collaboration.
- Tailored responses will be required to particular groups in rural and remote communities, including:
- older people, many of whom experience high levels of disadvantage
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (whose populations are frequently younger than the Australian average)
- fly-in/ fly-out workers and communities, many of whom experience high levels of isolation
- people from immigrant and refugee backgrounds who may feel isolated due to absent family or a lack of ethnospecific community networks.
- Services should give priority to:
- increasing awareness, understanding and acceptance of mental illness, increasing help-seeking behaviours and supporting communities to develop their capacity to assist people with mental health issues and their families
- using information and communications technologies to overcome issues of distance, isolation, lack of services, lack of peer support and limited opportunities for professional support and development
- facilitating affordable options for those wishing to access mental health care away from their local communities.