Help at the End of the Line? What does analysis of rural and remote calls to SANE Helpline tell us about mental health needs in the country?

The SANE Helpline is a national 1800 and online service providing information, advice, and referral to people concerned about mental illness.

Every year, the Helpline takes thousands of calls from people in rural and remote Australia who are worried about their own mental health, or that of a family member or friend.

The call might be about a daughter exhibiting signs of what might be a psychosis. It might be about a boyfriend who is depressed and suicidal. All calls are logged on our database, and while these records are anonymous, they include demographic data so that calls from rural and remote areas of the country can be aggregated and compared with national trends.

This data forms a rich resource of information about mental health needs in rural and remote Australia.

  • Are callers from country areas more or less likely than those in urban areas to express suicidal thoughts?
  • Are distance to services and transport issues which are raised?
  • Is stigma more of a problem or can smaller communities be more supportive?
  • Is ehealth a practical option to provide psychological support in areas where clinicians are thin on the ground, or is it seen as a second-best service? What support do rural carers most often request, and is this different to the needs of families in cities?

Analysis of the SANE Helpline database enables us to answer these questions and others, providing a finely-tuned, valuable image of mental health needs in rural and remote Australia based on the the actual experience of thousands of callers.

Dr Paul Morgan, Deputy CEO of SANE Australia will present at the:
4th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium to be held on the 19 – 21 November 2012, Adelaide, South Australia.

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