SA regions lacking mental health support

SA regions lacking mental health support

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When we live in one of the world's most privileged and developed countries, how can country people still face 12 months' wait to see a psychologist in their local area?

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When I learned that country people struggling with mental health issues face a wait of up to a year to see a psychologist in their local area, according to Goyder's Line Medical doctor Simon Jackson, I stopped in my tracks.

Rural patients are also having to wait weeks or months at a time to see counsellors or even get a Skype appointment.

When we live in one of the world's most privileged and developed countries, where awareness of the importance of mental health is on the rise, how can we still have situations like this?

When someone who has been struggling is ready to talk, there has to be someone with knowledge and experience there to listen straight away.

Mental illness can affect anyone at any time, capturing individuals in a silent and often invisible web.

While it's also a huge issue in our cities, there are circumstances in our country communities that can make things tougher for rural people.

It's a sweeping generalisation to make, but country people can often be reluctant to admit they are struggling and ask for help, thinking there's always someone else worse off, and having been raised to 'soldier on'.

There's also a reluctance by some members of the community to be proactive about their health. I'd love to know how many blokes haven't been to see their local GP in years.

With agriculture's fortunes so closely tied to the weather, the horrendous run of seasons experienced by farmers in parts of SA must be taking a huge and largely unseen toll on the mental health of country people.

Having experienced several years of little or no income, the number of businesses - both farming operations and those in our regional centres - experiencing financial hardship must be growing by the day.

Related reading:SA suicide prevention networks out in force

Add the pressure of watching crops fail, or having to find the money to feed livestock every day, knowing they won't survive long if the feed runs out, and any light at the end of the tunnel can feel pretty dim.

Then there's the isolation experienced in country areas, where people can go days at a time without talking to another person.

It's why, when someone who has been struggling is ready to talk, there has to be someone with knowledge and experience there to listen straight away - not in 12 weeks' time, and certainly not in 12 months' time. And they shouldn't have to travel to Adelaide to receive the support they need.

Like every Australian, they deserve first-class healthcare in their local community.

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