In this submission the Australian Mental Health Commissions (the Commissions) address the high levels of unmet mental health need in rural and regional communities.
On almost any indicator, people living outside of metropolitan areas experience inequity both in terms of their health and in getting access to appropriate services. Further, this inequity compounds the mental health challenges facing the proportionally higher numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in these areas. While the prevalence of illness in rural and remote Australia is similar to that in major cities, poorer mental health outcomes are evident. Access to health services is lower with shortages of all health professions and health-related infrastructure declining markedly with increasing remoteness.
The problems facing people living in rural and remote areas of Australia in accessing quality mental health services are severe and require immediate attention. The Commissions make 16 recommendations to the Senate of Community Affairs about how this could be done.