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Self‐recognition of mental health problems in a rural Australian sample

Mental ill health in rural areas is an ongoing concern, compounded by factors, including lower rates of help-seeking and professional service use than in urban areas, even where these services are available. It is possible that a low recognition of the symptoms of mental illness is one of the factors contributing to this.

A recent study aimed to explore this, by asking residents of rural and remote NSW to complete a scale measuring symptoms of mental illness.

These same residents were also asked whether they had experienced any problems with their mental health recently. Surprisingly, of the people who rated high symptoms of mental illness on the scale, one-third said that they had not had any recent problems with their mental health.

This suggests an important under-recognition of mental illness symptoms, with people perhaps thinking that these symptoms are a “normal” part of daily life, and therefore not taking advantage of local services that may help reduce them.

In summary ongoing public health campaigns are necessary to ensure that symptoms of mental illness are recognised in the multiple forms that they take, to ensure that rural residents are informed and able to seek help for these symptoms when they occur.

You can read the full paper at:   Handley, T., Lewin, T., Perkins, D., Kelly, B. (2018). Self‐recognition of mental health problems in a rural Australian sample. Australian Journal of Rural Healthdoi:10.1111/ajr.12406

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