John Gass

Mental health plan for remote Queenslanders

RURAL and regional Queenslanders suffer worse mental health outcomes than their metropolitan counterparts.

And hardships like the drought only make that worse.

People living in remote communities have poorer access to mental health services and suffer from statistically higher rates of substance abuse.

The Queensland Government on Tuesday announced $600,000 in grants for rural communities and a new tele-health service for remote residents needing mental health support.

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck said a new Rural and Remote Mental Health Action Plan 2016-18 was based on community input.

"We recognise that each community is different," Dr van Schoubroeck said.

"Some communities are thriving, with growing economies and populations, while others are experiencing significant hardship.

"Good mental health and wellbeing for all Queenslanders is important because it enables people to take care of their own needs and be more productive and resilient in the face of challenges such as changes in life circumstances, natural disasters and drought."

Health Minister Cameron Dick said new technologies could help bridge the service gap between country and city residents.

He said a new "tele-triage service: 1300 MH CALL will be rolled out across the state to link individuals with mental illness, their carers, family to mental health services seven days a week.

"Beyond just health, rural and remote Queensland needs co-ordinated action across education, employment, housing and family support services," he said.

"This action plan outlines how all areas of government will unite and work together to make a real difference and support Queenslanders living in rural and remote communities to reach their full potential, thrive in the face of change and cope with adversity." - ARM NEWSDESK