Rural and Remote Mental Health CEO, Joe Hooper, spoke to the Weekly Times on the alarming wait times for mental health services in regional areas across Australia. The mental health crisis in these communities is reflected by the demand for services and the lack of professionals to deliver them.

Face-to-face support or appointments can see people waiting for weeks with a recent survey done by Norco and the National Farmers’ Federation showing that one in ten farmers struggle with mental illness and feel unsupported. Telehealth is quicker to access but is not a complete solution, it is vital that people have access to face-to-face clinicians and mental health specialists, like those living in metropolitan areas.

“We need pathways to escalate assistance when needed but a GP may not be the necessary first point of contact,” he said.

“A conversation with an RUOK message and a trained listening ear from someone trusted in the community may be the first step to seeking help, or not needing acute services if early intervention is available,” said Joe.

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