Mental health academics in rural and remote Australia

D. Pierce, F. Little, J. Bennett-Levy, A.N. Isaacs, H. Bridgman, S.J. Lutkin, T.A. Carey, K.G. Schlicht, E. Martin, L.A. Martinez, Z. P. McCabe-Gusta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

© James Cook University 2016.Context: The significant impact of mental ill health in rural and remote Australia has been well documented. Included among innovative approaches undertaken to address this issue has been the Mental Health Academic (MHA) project, established in 2007. Funded by the Australian Government (Department of Health), this project was established as a component of the University Departments of Rural Health (UDRH) program. All 11 UDRHs appointed an MHA. Although widely geographically dispersed, the MHAs have collaborated in various ways. The MHA project encompasses a range of activities addressing four key performance indicators. These activities, undertaken in rural and remote Australia, aimed to increase access to mental health services, promote awareness of mental health issues, support students undertaking mental health training and improve health professionals' capacity to recognise and address mental health issues. MHAs were strategically placed within the UDRHs across the country, ensuring an established academic base for the MHAs' work was available immediately. Close association with each local rural community was recognised as important. For most MHAs this was facilitated by having an established clinical role in their local community and actively engaging with the community in which they worked. In common with other rural health initiatives, some difficulties were experienced in the recruitment of suitable MHAs, especially in more remote locations. The genesis of this article was a national meeting of the MHAs in 2014, to identify and map the different types of activities MHAs had undertaken in their regions. These activities were analysed and categorised by the MHAs. These categories have been used as a guiding framework for this article. Issues: The challenge to increase community access to mental health services was addressed by (i) initiatives to address specific access barriers, (ii) supporting recruitment and retention of rural mental health staff, (iii) developing the skills o
Original languageEnglish
Article number3793
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalRural and Remote Health
Volume16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Australia
  • Mental health
  • Mental health access
  • Mental health professional training

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