The Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health’s research addresses three broad questions:
- How can individuals, their families, and their communities stay mentally healthy?
- How can mental health services be improved?
- How can we understand and act to prevent rural suicide?
The CRRMH continues to make an important contribution to building the evidence base in rural mental health research, through work in the following areas:
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
This cohort study investigated individual, family and community factors associated with the mental health of residents in rural communities across New South Wales. The recruited cohort was followed for five years and the study is still producing research articles that build the evidence base of rural mental health in Australia, and further analyses continue.
CRRMH were supported by the Mental Health Commission of NSW to conduct a review of community wellbeing initiatives, with a view to producing a guide which could then be tailored to specific localities. CRRMH see this public health approach as a necessary step towards prevention of mental illness and promotion of positive mental wellbeing.
The research team have been working with Our Healthy Clarence (Grafton), Muswellbrook Healthy & Well, Lithgow, Margaret River, and various Act-Belong-Commit initiatives to both learn from their experience and contribute to the creation and continued development of their initiatives.
Family Referral Service in Schools (FRSIS) evaluation
This program formed part of the Central Coast Integrated Care Program but is now being extended to more schools in the area. The program objective is to link vulnerable children and their families with the health and community services they need; thereby keeping these children engaged with school and learning. The evaluation will be co-designed with key stakeholders.
Research projects in integrated care include an evaluation of Mudgee integrated mental health care within primary health model, the evaluation of a mental health collaborative governance model on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, IMHpact MNC, and the evaluation of the Central Coast Integrated Care Program.
Promoting patient-centred care rather than provider-focused care that integrates mental and physical concerns, find out more here about integrated care in Australia.
The LINKER Service (Specialist Homelessness Service Domestic Violence Response Enhancement) was established in 2016 to support women and children in Western NSW escaping domestic and family violence. The CRRMH was commission by Barnardos Australia in consortium with Western NSW Specialist Homelessness Services to evaluate the LINKER Service.
On 9 September 2019, we released our findings on how LINKER supports victims. The report also provides insight into the successes of LINKER and how the program can be improved to assist more women and children in crisis. You can read the full report here.
A documentary has also been created by Barnardos featuring LINKER support workers and the remarkable women they have helped to rebuild their lives. Watch below.
You can also read more about the LINKER service here
National Coronial Information System Rural Suicide Study
Using primary data on rural suicide in Australia extracted from the National Coronial Information System (NCIS), this mixed methods study will examine macro-level population data and micro-level individual data across 4 jurisdictions (QLD, NSW, TAS, SA) to provide evidence of the relationship between different determinants of suicide as they relate to rural suicide.
Identifying points of interaction between age, sex, and other variables such as employment status, disability, mental and physical health, service contacts, levels of remoteness, and a range of social determinants measures, this study will help identify the characteristics of the most vulnerable groups for rural suicide, and inform where intervention and policy changes are most needed.
The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) is a major project of the CRRMH with Coordinators based across regional, rural and remote NSW who inform, educate and connect individuals, communities and workplaces with appropriate services and programs. The research team are currently working with RAMHP on a pilot study to survey people linked to care by RAMHP Coordinators, as well as a survey within the 2019 Glove Box Guide to Mental Health with reader’s responses to inform future research at the Centre.
VERILY is a collaboration between La Trobe University, Swinburne University, Flinders University and University of Saskatchewan. It is a 2-year project that aims to improve dementia care in rural communities by providing increased support for carers of people with dementia. The project focuses on carers in rural communities because this group is often disadvantaged and have less access to support services.
CRRMH research staff will lead the rollout of VERILY in 2 NSW rural communities – Molong and Nyngan, comprising 3 key initiatives:
- Volunteer-led peer support and mentoring “hubs” to assist older people to use online information and communication technology
- A website and smartphone app to help carers navigate health and aged care services and to increase support and connectivity between carers and with service providers
- Carer peer support groups that meet by video-conference