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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2018

14 - Rural and regional mental health

Summary

Introduction

This chapter begins with an overview of the rural and regional clinical context, and explores the connections that rural mental health practitioners have within rural communities. Some models of mental health promotion and service delivery are discussed, such as community based services, visiting services, bed-based services and e-mental health services. The nature of life in rural settings and the ways in which climate and geographical location affect the mental health of people are also considered in the context of mental health resilience and vulnerability. Attention is given to the effects of natural disasters, agribusiness, mining, the itinerant rural workforce and under-employment, and the mental health consequences related to these matters. In addition, the story of a newly graduated registered nurse's experience in a rural hospital illustrates the real-life tensions between resourcing and helping rural people with mental health conditions. This chapter discusses some rural community benefits in regard to mental health promotion, such as a deeply felt sense of close social proximity despite significant geographical distances between rural people, and it explores aspects of rural stoicism. Rural and regional mental health promotion are considered and linked to key groups such as young people, and the agricultural and mining sectors. After reading this chapter, students will be able to reflect on, and critically think about, the ways in which mental health promotion, well-being and recovery can be enhanced among rural populations.

What is rural?

Rural is a multi-dimensional concept, which includes aspects of a person's culture, place, identity and geography, and the extent to which these align with standardised measures of rurality and remoteness. A range of perceptions and factors needs to be considered when attempting to understand what it is to be a rural person. People who live in rural communities often identify closely with a deep sense of ‘place’. The concept of place has a number of facets, which include psychological, emotional, socio-economic and geographical factors (Campbell, Manoff & Caffery, 2006). People in rural and regional communities may refer to themselves as being ‘from the bush’, or as a ‘country person’, or as ‘rural’, and all of these descriptions convey a sense of identity.