It is currently a time of great stress and anxiety for many people in in rural and regional communities in NSW. After years of drought they are now facing the aftermath of bushfires which have deeply affected many communities.
Nearly 2 million people in NSW live outside of major cities – that is one in four. People in these communities have limited access to mental health services. The rate of rural suicide is 1.7 times higher than in metropolitan areas, with men up to 2.6 times more likely to take their own lives than their urban counterparts.
At St Vincent’s we have a specialist unit which provides online programs and telehealth consultations. Our THIS WAY UP website provides mental health support, with services specifically targeting stress, anxiety and depression. Technology is helping us to help people in need anywhere, anytime, without having to travel to and from hospital.
There is a critical need for mental health support in our rural communities. This Christmas, the St Vincent’s Curran Foundation is working towards raising $170,000 to further enhance THIS WAY UP’s online services so we can deliver more programs specifically tailored to the needs of rural communities.
Telehealth and online services not only remove geographical barriers to care, but also remove the stigma often associated with mental illness in regional communities.
It is vital that we help regional GPs, psychologists and counsellors provide better care for people within their own communities. We want to make sure that everyone who needs assistance can receive it.
We are aiming to develop a new specialist telehealth clinic which will provide one-on-one video assessment and mental health management plans to rural and regional patients referred by their GP. We will provide patients with access to online courses, guided and coached by telehealth clinicians, and we will provide clinical guidance and advice to upskill rural and regional health workers via training, collaboration and supervision.
Click here to help us to further share our expertise with people across the whole of NSW by donating to our rural health appeal.