The Centre’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?
We continue to make an important contribution to building the evidence base in rural mental health research, through our work in the following areas:
PRESENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
This cohort study has investigated individual, family and community factors associated with the mental health of residents in rural communities across NSW. To date, 30 peer-reviewed research articles have increased our understanding of the experience of mental health in rural and remote communities and further analyses continue.
Community Wellbeing Initiatives
The Mental Health Commission has awarded the CRRMH funding to undertake a review of community wellbeing initiatives within NSW with a view to producing a Community Wellbeing Collaborative Model, which could then be tailored to specific localities.
The Research team will review the Our Healthy Clarence initiative (Grafton) and the Act-Belong-Commit initiatives (particularly Mentally Healthy Orange) by undertaking interviews with key stakeholders across the regions.
GPs with a Special Interest in Mental Health (GPswSIMH)
The Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network has contracted a consortium comprising the Black Dog Institute, CRRMH and the Australian College for Rural and Remote Medicine (ACCRRM) to develop a competency framework, guidelines and an accredited training package for General Practitioners with a Special Interest in Mental Health (GPswSIMH). The aim of the project is to enhance GPs’ skills in the area of mental health to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of primary care services for patients with mental health issues, and improve coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.
As the Australian Collaborating Centre for the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC Australia), the CRRMH promotes patient-centred rather than provider-focused care that integrates mental and physical concerns. Research projects in integrated care include an evaluation of the 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.
Orange Aboriginal Medical Service Youth Access Project
The CRRMH is a collaborator in a study into the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS) Youth Access Project, along with OAMS and researchers from the University of Sydney and Western Sydney University. The project aims to improve access and service delivery within OAMS for Aboriginal young people by providing an evidence base to inform service level changes and the development of an OAMS Youth Program. Data collection is complete and findings are being prepared for this project.
Our major program, RAMHP has undergone a change in focus to linking people to care. Stemming from this has been a restructure in the program logic and also in the way information is collected.
The program continues to be evaluated in 2017 with a pilot research study to evaluate the influence of the 2017 Glove Box Guide to Mental Health and whether it influences help seeking behaviour for mental health problems. We are particularly interested in ways to improve people accessing the care they need.
The GoodSpace project (formerly known as Farm-Link) has trained 1000 individuals in an evidenced based suicide prevention skills workshop. The team have also developed and delivered a suicide prevention skills workshop appropriate to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – We Yarn. These workshops are subject to evaluation and ongoing development with the support of the research team.
The National Suicide Prevention Trial covers a three-year period from 2016-17 up to 2018-19. It aims to provide evidence of how a more systems based approach to suicide prevention might be best undertaken within the Australian context. Twelve regions have been chosen for the trial with decisions on planning and implementation of trial activities to be based on advice from local communities. In 2017, CRRMH was commissioned by Western NSW Primary Health Network to undertake community and service provider consultations within the trial site of Western NSW and to assist in the development of strategies and implementation of services that support local areas.
Virtual Dementia Friendly Rural Community Project (VERILY)
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, 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
PAST RESEARCH PROJECTS
Rural mental health information and advice
The Centre works closely with rural local health districts, NSW Mental Health Branch and Primary Health Networks on projects regarding mental health service priorities, including models of integrated mental health care. The Centre provides advice on rural mental health to the NSW Mental Health Commission and the Health Minister.
The Centre recently produced a rapid review of the literature on Low Intensity Mental Health Services for a consortium of Primary Health Networks.
CRRMH researchers have contributed to the ‘Stayin’ on Track: Young Aboriginal Fathers Project’, which is led by Prof Richard Fletcher at the University of Newcastle Family Action Centre. This includes a literature review and paper. The ‘Stayin’ on Track: Young Aboriginal Fathers Project’ aims to support young Aboriginal men manage the life change of becoming a father. It is focused on the experiences of young Aboriginal dads in Moree, Tamworth and Newcastle.
Step by Step Blue Mountains Bushfire Support Service Qualitative Evaluation
The Step By Step Bushfire Support Service (SBS) was established in response to the 2013 bush fires in the Blue Mountains, NSW. In collaboration with the Ministry of Police, Emergency Services (MPES) and The University of Newcastle, the CRRMH undertook the evaluation of SBS to gain an understanding of how this service operated during the Blue Mountains bush fires in 2013 and how effective the service was to the people who used it.
Warrumbungle Bushfire Support Coordination Service – Evaluation
The Warrumbungle Bushfire Support Coordination Service (BSCS) was designed to help affected individuals, families and communities recover from the Warrumbungle bushfires of January 2013. Recognising the rareness of evaluations undertaken on post-disaster services like the BSCS, the CRRMH and NSW Ministry for Police and Emergency Services have collaborated to conduct an evaluation.
Working Well: Mental Health and Mining
The CRRMH has collaborated on this RISA award winning research project and has assessed 1450 coal mine employees regarding access to care, understanding and experience of mental health concerns. This work has resulted in four peer reviewed papers and informed the national Mining Industry Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing