“The past few years, for many of us, have brought a series of blows from which we can’t seem to catch a break: pandemic, bushfires, floods, social isolation and, for young people particularly, concern about the state of our planet. This, on top of our everyday stressors has been a lot, and this is reflected in the state of our mental health and the increasingly high demand on mental health services.
The mental health crisis isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but that’s not to say there isn’t hope. We are in the midst of change where not only individually, but on a systemic level we are starting to prioritise our mental health as well as awareness and education. This was evident to me in the support I received from JCU GP Training, the Dean, my lecturers and, most importantly, my peers to hold group Mental Health First Aid training at the University.
Rural suicide prevention is something I am passionate about. Rural populations are a diverse and underserved population broadly in health care but even more so when it comes to mental health.
Prevalence of mental health conditions is similar between metropolitan and rural Australia, but the rural suicide rate is twice as high. This speaks volumes to the paucity of mental health services in rural areas, and to the stigma surrounding mental health that is still so common in society.
The state of mental health and suicidality is an even more distressing picture for First Nations peoples, with Aboriginal men having one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and the suicide rate among young people being three times higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.