Research Rural — 21 June 2018

The study shows a significant portion of country people have problems identifying mental illness. Photo: Katherine Times 

A third of country people who suffer moderate to high psychological distress don’t think they have a mental health problem.

That’s the key finding of research published today in the Australian Journal of Rural Health, the National Rural Health Alliance’s peer reviewed journal.

Respondents were asked if they’d experienced any mental health problems in the past twelve months, and then filled in a questionnaire that measures psychological distress.

A total of 472 people reported moderate to very high levels of psychological distress in the past twelve months. A third of these people did not report any mental health problems.

The survey, called “Self recognition of mental health problems in a rural Australian sample”, breaks new ground in rural mental health research. It shows that a significant portion of country people have problems identifying mental illness.

The new study said that mental illness in rural areas is often under reported because of the lack of mental health professionals working in the country. But it noted that rural people are less likely to seek help even if services are available.

The study said “poor mental health literacy” is a critical barrier to country people getting the help they need.

It adds that country people are reluctant to acknowledge distress as a problem, and have a tendency to associate ‘mental health problems’ with severe disorders that might require hospitalisation.

The authors are calling for a public health campaign that specifically targets country people.

  • Lifeline – Call 13 11 14
  • Beyondblue – Call 1300 224 636
  • Samaritans Crisis Line – Call 13 52 47
  • Suicide Call Back Service – Call 1300 659 467
  • Northern Territory Mental Health Line – Call 1800 682 288

This piece by Chris McLennan was first seen on ‘Katherine Times’, 20 June 2018. 

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