The role of basic environmental factors in the development of psychiatric morbidity: introducing environmental mental health assessment tools

Dr Gelaye Nadew

Psychiatric morbidity is linked to complex interactions of social, environmental and biological factors. Social and biological factors have been given comparatively better attention while environmental issues are paid a partial consideration, especially when considering rural and remote communities. Hence the role of basic environmental health in the development of mental illness in rural and remote population is not understood.

This presentation will explore the link between mental illness and basic environmental health issues affecting rural and remote populations and introduce an environmental mental health checklist. Mental health professionals have established the role of excessive and unrelenting day to day stress in the development of psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxieties. In rural and remote Australia many of the day to day stresses are generated by issues associated with environmental health.
People living in rural and remote Australia have greater environmental health stressors than the metropolitan population.  Identifying the link between these basic environmental health issues and development of mental illness will lead to more effective and comprehensive psychological intervention.
The process of addressing these problems demands the need for collaboration and partnership with various departments and community service providers who traditionally played little or no role in mental health care. For this to occur, mental health professionals need to extend mental health assessment to include basic environmental factors. This presentation highlights issues that need to be covered and introduces environmental mental health assessment tools. 

Dr Gelaye Nadew and co-author Mrs Tania Wiley, Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health, University of WA will present this paper at th e 4th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Conference in Adelaide from November 19th to 21st 2012

Visit the conference website for full program details

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