by Nkayla Afshariyan
In rural and regional Australia, vital mental health services are lagging far behind those accessible in metropolitan regions.
A lack of funding and a smaller population are primary reasons why these regions, including the Central West, are yet to see the same standard of health care afforded to city slickers.
This gap is disgraceful, especially when considering each year, over 4 million Australians will suffer from some form of mental illness.
In addition, around seven people take their own lives every day.
The latest report released by the Bureau of Statistics in March shows that Australia’s national rate of suicide is at its highest in 13 years.
The Federal Government expressed concern over the growing rate of suicide and mental illness during the recent election campaign.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull discussed the future of mental health services on ABC program Q and A earlier this year.
Tracy McCown, Lived Experience Network Manager for Suicide Prevention Australia, believes that a discussion on mental health and suicide is always warranted.
Brooke Ward, a Youth Mentor for Headspace Bathurst, understands the importance of mental health services but is concerned that the waiting periods may be turning people away.
“There is a three week minimum to get in and see someone at Headspace, if it’s not an emergency,” she said.
“But there has definitely been an increase in the amount of people who are needing to access Headspace Bathurst services.”
Despite the ongoing need for new facilities in rural and regional Australia, the services currently accessed by local residents are doing their part in helping to maintain healthy lifestyles for their residents.
Headspace Dubbo recently celebrated its one year anniversary, and the National Big Stigma scheme is helping to address the issues surrounding mental health.
Pic: Headspace Bathurst. Image by Nkayla Afshariyan