Radio Series Exploring Mental Health in Rural Areas

Published 18 April 2013

A six week radio series ‘Bush Remedies’, exploring mental health in rural areas, is being broadcast on the radio station ABC New England North West, NSW.

The series will explore some of the major factors which influence mental health and the way in which nurses’ contribute to the well-being of rural communities. The six topics that will be addressed include; mood & food, natural disasters, suicide, adapting to change, social media and mental health first aid responses.

Following serious government cutbacks in the last 18 months, most notably a decrease in funding for the Medicare funded Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) and the Better Access programs, rural areas have been left vulnerable.  ‘Bush Remedies’ delves deeply into the complex issues that influence mental health in rural  locations in order to promote rural mental health resilience, raise awareness of the enduring problems these communities face and highlight the channels of support  available.

With the government withdrawing funds from these areas and mental health problems far outweighing those in urban areas the research and resources of regional universities have become increasingly important.  Presenter of this series Rhonda Wilson, lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at University of New England, is currently collaborating with other academics in this field to publish an important review on the impact of social media on mental health in rural areas. Bush Remedies will examine this area in week five and try to answer fundamental questions such as; how it is being used, the adaption rate and whether it is an effective tool.

Whilst extensive research for this programme has been undertaken at the University of New England, the issues it raises are applicable nationally and the patterns found are essential in helping rural communities plan for the future