The divide between city and country is a familiar narrative, but a report into mental health needs has warned the gap for young Australians in rural areas could be worsening.
The research released today by Mission Australia and ReachOut shows people are struggling to find adequate mental health services, if the right help is available at all.
The Lifting the Weight report was commissioned to get a better understanding of young people’s mental health needs in regional and remote areas.
It suggested young people living further from major cities were exposed to social and economic factors driving poorer health outcomes without effective, or no services at all in some areas.
Effective programs essential
Robert Nixon from Orange in the Central West region of New South Wales wanted the report’s message to be heard, after two of his children took their own lives.
His son died in 2016, and his daughter also took her life six years earlier.
“It’s absolutely essential if we are looking at collaborating and putting together effective programs,” Mr Nixon said.
The report identified financial issues, school or study stress and the future as the top three worries faced by regional young people.
It also found that half of the 8,000 young people surveyed did not seek professional help, despite having a problem which required it.
Mission Australia chief executive, James Toomey, said visibility around the issue of mental health conditions had improved, but services outside major cities were not keeping up.
He said some young people had to drive hours to access help if online services were not available.
“Even if those things do exist it is going to be a challenge to access them if you can’t actually get on the network,” Mr Toomey said