Men­tal health care in cri­sis in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties: re­port

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - Joanna De­la­lande

A Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist is con­cerned com­mu­nity mem­bers are not re­ceiv­ing ad­e­quate men­tal health treat­ment from fly-in, fly-out psy­chol­o­gists used to fill a se­ri­ous short­age of reg­is­tered men­tal health prac­ti­tion­ers.

It comes as a Se­nate com­mit­tee has called for a men­tal health strat­egy that tar­gets the “myr­iad of bar­ri­ers” to ac­cess­ing qual­ity men­tal health ser­vices in ru­ral and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

The in­quiry into men­tal health ac­ces­si­bil­ity and qual­ity in ru­ral and re­mote Aus­tralia handed down its re­port yes­ter­day. It pointed to is­sues around FIFO men­tal health ser­vices used to ad­dress the lack of men­tal health ser­vices and pro­fes­sion­als avail­able in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas.

The in­quiry found com­mu­ni­ties were of­ten not re­cep­tive towards FIFO work­ers as they only vis­ited for short pe­ri­ods and had not built re­la­tion­ships in the com­mu­nity.

Lo­cal clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Christina Petz said there was a sig­nif­i­cant short­age of psy­chol­o­gists in Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der, forc­ing clients to sit on lengthy wait­ing lists or to re­ceive ser­vices from peo­ple not trained in psy­chol­ogy.

She said she was aware some or- gan­i­sa­tions in town used FIFO psy­chol­o­gists, which raised con­cerns around con­ti­nu­ity of care.

“If you’re got a fre­quently chang­ing prac­ti­tioner, clients have to tell their story over and over, and they don’t get to build that trust­ing re­la­tion­ship,” she said.

“The FIFO model isn’t suited to psy­chol­ogy be­cause you need a weekly meet­ing, at least ini­tially, to gain mo­men­tum and make progress. It’s not enough to see some­one once a month.”

Full Cir­cle Ther­a­pies man­ager Keren Franklin said the not-for­profit group would pre­fer to use a lo­cal psy­chol­o­gist but had to rely on a FIFO psy­chol­o­gist in­stead due to lack of avail­abil­ity. “We do have psy­chol­o­gists in Kal­go­or­lie but they’re all fully booked,” she said.

“The big­gest is­sue is cost — with the state of our air­fares, as a non­profit, we’re not able to bring some­one in as of­ten as we’d like.

“We have some­one once a term for a few days, and they can see eight clients in a day.

“We have tried to keep con­ti­nu­ity of care as much as pos­si­ble, but of course we would like to be able to use some­one lo­cal.”

She said there was con­stant de­mand for the psy­chol­o­gist, who pro­vided men­tal health ser­vices to chil­dren and fam­i­lies liv­ing with autism.

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