Rural Minds - Early Intervention Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

The 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will this year be held over 15-17 October at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania.

Joining us at the conference is Mr Tim Saal, Manager - Rural and Remote Programs at Rural and Remote Mental Health who will present on ‘Rural Minds - Early Intervention Mental Health and Suicide Prevention’.


This presentation outlines the development of Rural Minds, a program developed in consultation with the community to raise awareness of mental health literacy, stigma, help seeking and ultimately prevent suicide in rural and remote agricultural communities. Rural Minds adopts a train-the-presenter model to empower local people to keep the conversation about mental health and suicide going in their own community by repetitive provision of the training.

Barriers and enablers to the development of the program will be discussed along with preliminary results of the evaluation. So far 336 participants (Presenters n=36; Community n=300) from 41 workshops have participated. Of these, 15% of presenters (n=5) and 14% of community members (n=36) reported having made an attempt to end their life with 3% (n=8) reporting that an attempt to end their life had occurred within the past month. A total of 74% of presenters (n=26) reported they had previously responded to someone expressing suicidal thoughts.

After the workshop 82% (n=28) reported that they were more confident recognising the indicators associated with people contemplating suicide and 83% (n=29) felt they would know how to support others in a mental health emergency. 85% of community members reported that they understood more about mental health after the workshop. They also reported that they could use the information to benefit themselves or others and felt more comfortable talking about mental health. These results suggest that Rural Minds may be an effective way to promote suicide prevention and reduce stigma in these communities.

Key Learnings:
1. Culturally appropriate rural community-based education programs are the foundation to increasing help seeking and better mental health in rural Australia Rural Minds.
2. Develops knowledge, understanding and confidence about mental health and suicide prevention.
3. Rural Minds provides appropriate and accessible information about referral pathways.


Tim has developed, implemented several programs including the Rural Minds, ‘Me & My Community’, the Building Bridges Program and the Roadshow Initiative. Tim manages the Partners in Recovery program in the South Burnett and Western Downs within the DDSWQ. Tim also represents RRMH on several state and national steering committees and research advisory groups. Tim was raised on a property in Southern Queensland with an extremely diverse employment history including Hotel Security/management, sleep technician, cattle breaker/groom, NLIS consultant and SAC of Agricultural Science at Education Queensland. Tim was a Rural Ambassador and reached the state final.

For more information on the 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium and to secure early bird discounted rates currently on offer please visit

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