The ABC will again be highlighting mental health as part of the Mental Health Week (5-12 October, 2015) campaign to challenge understanding and reignite a national conversation about mental health. A broad television, radio and online program will provide the platform for this year’s Mental As production.
The National Rural Health Alliance joined members of the ABC rural production unit, Mental Health Australia and mental health expert, Leanne Craze to discuss the state of mental health in rural and remote communities and how the ABC work can best cover this critical health issue. The Alliance provided a comprehensive picture of the state of mental health and the underlying factors that impact on the capacity of people in rural and remote areas to access services. The rural production team was informed of how a lack of access to primary health care and mental health support services affects the timely diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. The impact of social determinants such as education, income, employment and housing were highlighted at the meeting and recommended as an area to explore the complexity behind poorer health outcomes in rural and remote communities. In addition, mental health issues effecting Indigenous Australian's was another strong theme in the discussion.
Although the state of mental health in the bush makes sobering reading, the Alliance reminded the production team that rural life is wonderful and that rural communities have many positives. This message was repeated again and again to help ensure that rural mental health coverage also engendered a sense of hope for those suffering from a mental illness. Over the coming months, the Alliance will be working in partnership with the ABC, and our colleagues in mental health, to make sure an informative and hopeful message is shared across the nation about the realities for people with mental illness in rural and remote communities.