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Royal Flying Doctor Service warns a mental health crisis in rural and regional Australia

Photo: Doctors warn of rural mental health crisis
The Royal Flying Doctor Service is warning there is a mental health crisis in rural and remote parts of the country.

The service's chief executive Martin Laverty says five times as many people in cities are accessing mental health services compared to those in remote Australia.

"If that's not a crisis, I don't know what a crisis is," Mr Laverty told ABC radio on Monday.

The service provided mental health counselling to 24,500 people last year.

"We could double or triple that service tomorrow and still not touch the surface," Mr Laverty said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt acknowledges there is a "very significant challenge" with mental health in the regions.
He said the government is working to provide additional services in the area such as rural Headspace, telehealth and online services.

"Because no matter where you are, in the middle of the night, if it's 3am and there is a dark, dark moment you need to be able to speak to somebody or you need to get help," he said.

Efforts are also being made over coming months to create a program of incentives to encourage more medical workers to move to the bush.

Labor called on the government to prioritise greater funding for mental health services in the lead-up to the budget.

"Mental health services need more than lip-service from Malcolm Turnbull and his government," the party's mental health spokeswoman Julie Collins said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.

Local Aboriginal Medical Service details available from www.bettertoknow.org.au/AMS

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