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 Australians .
“If that’s not a crisis, I don’t know what a crisis is,” he told ABC radio on Monday.
The service saw 24,500 people to provide mental health counselling 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.
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