Australians living in rural areas are substantially more likely to die by suicide than their city counterparts. Since depression is the leading cause of suicide it is vital to find ways of tackling depression among rural Australians. There are few mental health services in rural and regional areas and most rural Australians are reluctant to seek formal help for their mental health problems. The Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) aims to need to develop and evaluate alternative innovative methods to improve mental health among those living rural and remote regions.
CMHR undertakes research to better understand what people in rural Australia believe and understand about mental illness. It seeks to investigate help seeking for mental health problems by rural Australians and the attitudes which prevent such help seeking. The Centre has pioneered the development and evaluation of online self-help methods for tackling depression and anxiety that are widely used in rural areas and is undertaking research on the use of these programs by rural Australians.
Suicide rates are particularly high among farmers. CMHR is currently seeking to identify methods of tackling this problem. The Centre’s Farmers’ WellBeing Project aims to develop, evaluate and disseminate a self-help book and online program that will improve the mental health of farming communities. Tailored to the needs of farmers the objective is to reduce depression and prevent suicide among farmers.