Caring for the mental health of people in remote and rural areas can be particularly challenging, with mental health issues in rural Australia both widespread and significant. In a rural context, there is a lack of suitably trained health providers and available services, as well as a pressing need to ensure that rural GPs and allied health professionals have access to clinically relevant, high quality face-to-face training, to be able to diagnose, treat and manage common mental health problems within their communities.
Black Dog Institute received $10,000 from James N. Kirby Foundation to deliver two face-to-face health professional training workshops “Dealing with Depression in Rural Australia”. This course has been developed by Black Dog Institute and gives particular emphasis to the experience of dealing with depression in a rural setting, including understanding the impact of specific psychosocial stressors in the rural environment, strategies for managing suicide risk, and collaboration across medical and allied health disciplines to establish a team-based approach to mental health care.
With funding from the James N. Kirby Foundation, workshops were delivered in Albury (NSW) and Innisfail (QLD) to forty-three health professionals including GPs, psychologists, social workers and Aboriginal health workers. The multidisciplinary nature of the workshops strengthened the communication and working relationships between the various health professionals in these local communities. The educational sessions are further supplemented by continued education and support through Black Dog Institute’s e-Mental Health webinars and resources.
Health professionals in these areas are rarely offered face-to-face workshops which are accessible and affordable. While online training is effective for reaching geographically disparate areas, face to face education provided the opportunity for health professionals in Albury and Innisfail to receive in-depth and interactive training, have opportunity for peer learning and support, and also strengthen a collaborative team-based approach to mental health care within a local area.
Professor Helen Christensen
Chief Scientist and Director