Over 70% of Australia’s population lives in major cities or urban areas and the majority of mental wellness resources are located in these areas to match it. This can negatively impact the mental health tools available to people living in rural regions because not only do they have access to fewer resources, they are located far more sparsely across Australia’s immense landscape.
The nature of living in rural areas also lends people living there to several unique mental health challenges due to a lack of internet and mobiles, severe isolation, small communities and natural disasters.
For this week’s blog, we spoke to Mental Health Advocate Zoe Hayes on the unique challenges facing the people living in rural and remote areas of Australia and how they can be more proactive with their mental health to prevent it from reaching a crisis point.
Zoe created Dust Off Depression due to her own lived experiences struggling with depression and attempted suicide following the suicide of her mother in 2017. She realised first hand that there wasn’t enough support in regional areas and wanted to make a change.
“I started talking publicly and people started telling me about other people who had taken their lives. I thought to myself, this isn’t generalised enough when it needs to be for every man, woman and child”.
Zoe now spends her time breaking the stigma surrounding suicide and speaking up for mental health while raising funds through online sales. She recently helped raise over $8000 to buy hay bales and support farmers in drought-stricken regions.
When we spoke to Zoe, we asked her about some of the unique challenges facing people in remote regions that she has seen.
“The biggest one is pure isolation. When I worked in the Pilbara, we were 8 hours away from the closest medical facility”
“Another one is that the communities within isolated areas are very tight but they’re also very small and it can be hard because you don’t have other people to talk to or different perspectives”.
Just like us at Yumm, Zoe is a strong believer in the importance of being proactive with mental health.
“There is a big difference between mental health and mental illness. We all have mental health and it is how we look after our mental health that then prevents us from developing a mental illness”.
“It is also important to be having general conversations and opening up communications within our community. We also need to be careful in rural and remote areas that we aren’t preaching to them about mental health”.
Zoe’s tips for mental wellness:
- Taking time out when you need it
- Healthy diet
- Seeking a local GP when things are bottling up
It was great to have the opportunity to speak to Zoe and we can’t thank her enough for her insight. Make sure that you go check out Dust Off Depression if you would like to learn more about mental health or buy some funky coloured products to raise awareness!