Georgie Harman, CEO of beyondblue will be attending this year's 9th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium this October, discussing this year's Conference theme, "Impacts & outcomes, putting people first".
Since beyondblue was founded in 2000, there has been enormous growth in public awareness of mental health issues. The government’s health reform strategy has seen the establishment of Primary Health Networks that tailor services to meet the needs of local communities.
Contesting conventional thinking about mental health and wellbeing interventions has resulted in them no longer being considered the exclusive domain of clinicians. However, much remains to be done. Untreated depression increases the risk of suicide and every day eight Australians take their own life. Yet, only 46 per cent of Australians with anxiety and depression access treatment and support when they need it. Living remotely brings many rewards, but there are also unique difficulties such as the lack of access to services and too few mental health professionals, cultural differences and tyrannies of distance. Stigma remains a major contributing factor to the reluctance to seek support, particularly in rural and regional areas.
In this keynote address, Ms Harman will discuss these challenges and how prevention and early intervention through schools, workplaces and communities have the potential to transform life-long mental health outcomes for millions.
Ms Harman will suggest new ways for organisations to capture the needs of the largest cohort of the mentally unwell – those at the early end of the spectrum – who are currently unidentified, undiagnosed and slipping through the safety net. She will discuss how internet-based technology – the most widely used resource for people with any kind of health concern – can offer service managers and designers the tools to listen for and hear the otherwise silent voices of people needing support.
Participants are to be challenged to think outside their comfort zones when it comes to delivering mental health supports. She will propose that nobody should be left behind when it comes to supporting, maintaining and improving the mental health of all Australians in 2017.
The 2017 Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium will include keynote speakers, concurrent sessions and workshops that develop skills related specifically to the mental health needs of our rural and remote communities, and ways to effectively prepare mental health and other rural human service professionals to meet future challenges.