Australians in regional areas more likely to suffer mental health conditions

Peter Terlato 23 September 2016

Farmer regional Australia

Self-harm rates are significantly higher in more remote parts of the country.

People living in regional and remote parts of Australia experience higher rates of mental health conditions and intentional self-harm than those residing in metropolitan or city areas, according to a new report released this week.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) monitored local-level variations in hospitalisations across Australia's 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas and 330 smaller local areas in 2013-14.

Nationally, there were 213,076 overnight hospitalisations for mental health conditions in both public and private hospitals, representing 5% of all overnight admissions at a rate of 911 per 100,000 people.

Overnight hospitalisation rates were higher in regional PHN areas (971 per 100,000) than metropolitan PHN areas (857 per 100,000).

Mental health hospitalisation rates were high in inner regional areas (946 per 100,000) and outer regional areas (991 per 100,000) but highest in remote locations (1,096 per 100,000).

For example, rates in western Sydney (830 per 100,000) were far lower than those on NSW's north coast (1,267 per 100,000).

The gap between regional and metropolitan PHN areas was even more striking for hospitalisations pertaining to intentional self-harm.

Rates were low in areas like Eastern Melbourne (83 per 100,000) but around three times higher in Central Queensland, Wide Bay and the Sunshine Coast (240 per 100,000).

Suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the fourth highest causes of death in Australia.

Last month, a study by James Cook University revealed more than 40% of Australians with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions sidestepped treatment because it's too expensive.

Our comprehensive guide lists insurers that provide coverage for mental health sufferers and explores what's being done to bring mental health up to speed with the rest of the healthcare system.

If you, a family member, friend or colleague need access to 24 hour crisis support, suicide prevention services or other mental health resources, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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