Objectives: This study (a) describes the clinical and demographic profile of urban to rural migrants attending a psychiatric outpatient clinic and (b) explores the impact of the move on patients' mental health and lifestyle.
Methods: A self-rated questionnaire distributed to 207 consecutive outpatients requested demographic and clinical information from migrant and non-migrant patients. A focus group study among a purposeful sample of 10 migrant patients explored participants perceptions of the move and its impact on mental health.
Results: One hundred and one patients (48.8%) returned the questionnaire. Most migrant responders described housing affordability as influencing their decision and were generally satisfied with the move. However, half reported reduced access to social amenities. Over half of the migrant outpatients had a previous psychiatric history and were mostly unemployed despite being home-owners. Predominant focus group themes included the perceived need to leave the city for the relative safety and calm of rural living as well as post-migration concerns regarding future isolation and diminished levels of support.
Conclusion: Clinicians and service providers in rural areas should be informed by an awareness of the potential mental health implications of counter-urbanisation.