The program was established by Queensland Health to help prevent suicide and build resilience in rural and remote areas of Queensland.
Manager of the Drought and Disaster Team, Ben Norris, and Senior Project Officer Marianne Zangari, met with mental health service providers in Mount Isa on Tuesday, and travelled to Camooweal on Wednesday. They also spent RU OK? Day, Thursday September 14, in Mount Isa.
Their core focus is to help people affected by drought and disaster in regional, rural and remote Queensland, as Mr Norris said.
“The North West, like other parts of Queensland has experienced one of the worst droughts ever, and that has impacted on the grazier industry. Add to that, events like businesses closing and a mining downturn and such events can have an impact on communities, with people experiencing stress, anxiety and depression.
“We’re looking at ways in which the North West Hospital and Health Service (NWHHS) can roll out our Tackling Regional Adversity through Integrating Care (TRAIC) program, which is running in nine Hospital and Health Services, throughout rural and regional Queensland, of which the NWHHS is one,” Mr Norris said.
Project officer, Marianne Zangari said TRAIC aimed to ensure that the level of psychological distress in a community did not increase, and that mental health services would build on the levels of resilience already present in the community.
Ms Zangari said it was important that people who were experiencing levels of distress, for whatever reason, seek help sooner rather than later.
This is where the NWHHS’ dedicated clinical nurse consultant for TRAIC, Kate Wonnacott, comes in.
“One of TRAIC’s pillars is to improve the mental health literacy of local communities, trying to help people better understand how they can seek help, and where from,” Ms Wonnacott said.
“Another aim is to integrate clinical care and community support for people at risk of suicide, or other mental conditions to help improve referral pathways for patients.
“We’re also aiming to train frontline workers in health and other agencies to better identify people at risk and refer them to appropriate services.”
The first port of call for people experiencing distress is to talk to others about it and not suffer in silenc, whether that is to family, friends, colleagues, their local GP, or health care clinic, Ms Wonnacott said.
“Your GP or health clinic can organise a mental health care plan, and that is bulk billed, and they can also refer the patient to one of the agencies who can help.
“There is help available, firstly through the GP or health clinic; there are workplace schemes that can help with counselling, and the problem doesn’t have to be work-related; or there is the MH CALL number: 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 22 55), Lifeline: 13 11 14, beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 and MensLine: 1300 78 99 78 – all providing 24 hour support.
“No one should have to deal with stress, anxiety, depression or distress on their own. There is plenty of help available,” Ms Wonnacott said.