Australia facing rural mental health crisis


Fraser Clarke

Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service has warned that rural areas of the country are now facing a mental health crisis.

Speaking on ABC Radio this week, Chief Executive of the service, Martin Laverty, said: “Five times as many people in cities are accessing mental health services compared to those in remote Australia.

“If that's not a crisis, I don't know what a crisis is.

"Last year the Flying Doctors saw 24,500 people to provide mental health counselling, but we could double or triple that service tomorrow and still not touch the surface”, he continued.

Laverty’s comments come on the back of statistics being released that showed 15 rural areas in Australia had no registered psychiatrists.

“These are areas where perhaps you're not surprised to see that there aren't health professionals in abundance.” Laverty added.

“However that should be no excuse in a country with universal access to healthcare.”

Mental illness is a massive area of concern in Australia, and that is something that Health Minister, Greg Hunt, is all too aware of. Responding to Laverty’s comments he said: “I do believe there is a very significant challenge and this is because there are four million Australians every year who have some form of mental health issue.

“In rural areas this is a significant challenge which is precisely why we are looking at additional services.

“No matter where you are, in the middle of the night, if it's 3am and there is a dark, dark moment you need to be able to speak to somebody or you need to get help.”

Australia is continuing to attract a steady stream of medics looking to leave Europe, especially those looking to escape the struggling NHS. Offering a laid-back lifestyle, generous salaries and a great work/life balance it’s not hard to see why either.

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