The Royal Flying Doctor Service helping remote Australian communities through the tough times.
Mental health is not an equal proposition for those living in regional, rural, and remote communities.
With those in the city 80% more likely to reach out to services than their non-metropolitan neighbours, it’s a problem largely about accessibility.
With the drought and COVID-19 pandemic impacting livelihoods, the RFDS have found that more families in the outback are requesting MHAoD services to help them through the tough times ahead. Through a fly-in-fly-out-model, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) outreach to some of Australia’s most remote communities to deliver critical healthcare services, including Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs (MHAoD) support.
Faced with growing evidence that there were insufficient MHAoD services in regional areas, the Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section established three new “Wellbeing Places” in Broken Hill, Dubbo, and Lightning Ridge to complement their outreach services.
These dedicated facilities provide a welcoming space where individuals can simply call in to find company or a listening ear, and when they are ready, move to evidence-based mental health and therapeutic services such as peer support, counselling, group activities or formal clinical interventions – all of which are offered from the Wellbeing Place.
The RFDS identified a need for services focused on the relatively neglected, - that is, those with mild to moderate mental health challenges, especially people who are middle-aged or elderly.
The aim is to engage individuals and communities as early as possible in the cycle of deteriorating health and wellbeing. This prevents mental ill health from becoming severe, and reduces reliance on emergency mental healthcare.
“The idea is to create a safe and trusted entry point for people to access professional support and engage in activities to enhance or maintain their sense of wellbeing,” explains Vanessa Latham, Mental Health Manager.
“When people travel to a town they are closer to and therefore more familiar with, they will now be able to access our team easily and in a more homely and warm environment.”
Vanessa says the Wellbeing Place provides an opportunity to expand the RFDS’ range of services from clinical mental health treatment to workshops and programs for wellbeing and preventative health.
“There is space for yoga, meditation practice and group workshops, a ‘shed’ for skills building, and areas for people to mingle and hang out. We also have a library full of books and resources,” Vanessa says.
“Our clients are all astounded by it. People have said it is calm, welcoming, and peaceful. The clinicians love it too!”
To find out more about the RFDS South Eastern Section, the Wellbeing Place or other programs, visit here.
This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees