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The Independent Voice of
Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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29 September, 2021

Mental health demand increases

Mental health has become a rising problem in the west.

By Susan C McDarra

How you think and how you feel creates your state of being. Students from Longreach State High School experienced the mind-body balance that comes from practicing Yoga, led by Sammi Sheehan, from Sammi’s Fresh Fitness, for last Thursday’s “R U OK?” Day 2021. PHOTO: Supplied

MENTAL health support has proven to be a growing necessity for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in western Queensland with the 2020-21 statistics showing Longreach clinicians supported 1130 patients in Longreach and surrounding communities during the 2020-21 financial year.  

This is in comparison to the 2019-20 year where RFDS treated 882 patients.   

 The multi-disciplinary team consists of clinicians with qualifications in psychology, social work, mental health nursing and occupational therapy. 

 The RFDS Longreach base provides three specific services — psychological therapies, low-intensity counselling services and mental health and wellbeing promotion.  

Additionally, demand for Central West Mental Health services has remained steady, with 30 new referrals each month over the last two financial years. 

However, there’s been a spike recently in people seeking mental health support. 

“In the first two months of this current 2021-22 financial year the number of referrals increased to an average of 38-40 per month,” a Queensland Health spokesperson said. 

“Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS) referral numbers have remained largely unchanged over the same period, averaging around four per month.  

“The largest number of Child and Youth mental health referrals are in the 13-18 year age group,” the spokesperson said. 

People in rural and remote areas can experience stress from pressures such as social isolation, financial hardship, lack of employment opportunities, and natural disasters such as fire, flood or drought.  

Often, these pressures can have a major impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing, leading to anxiety, depression or other health-related issues. 

“Whilst the number of mental health staff in the region has not increased over the past two years, Central West Mental Health have recruited more permanent Queensland Health staff which has resulted in less reliance on temporary agency staff,” the QH spokesperson said. 

“This continuity of staff ensures a better quality of service to our patients.” 

Whether the increase in people seeking support is because of people feeling the effects of the global uncertainty, whether the stigma around seeking help is lifting, or there’s higher retention in quality practitioners, Longreach has many options for support. 

This year’s theme for Queensland Mental Health Week from October 9-17 is themed “Take time – for mental health” so if you or someone you know needs mental health support, call RFDS on 4652 5800 or QH on 1300 642 255 or visit RFDS at 

or CWMH at 

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