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:
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
Australian Rural Mental Health Study (ARMHS)
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. Find out more here.
RAMHP is supporting the Baggy Blues in a rural cricket tour which incorporates increasing mental health literacy – reaching a demographic which is typically harder to engage. CRRMH will undertake an evaluation of the tour.
A pilot study is proposed for 2019 to survey people linked to care by RAMHP Coordinators.
What is Books on Prescription? – another tool in the stepped-care mental health tool kit
Self-care and supported self-care are important early steps in the treatment of mild to moderate mental health conditions. There is strong evidence that self-help reading can assist people with common mental health conditions.
The CRRMH partnered with the Books on Prescription scheme, which supports these treatment steps and is now available in public libraries across Central and Far Western NSW. Books included in the scheme are clinically verified, based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and cover a range of mild to moderate mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.
Community Wellbeing Initiatives
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.
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 of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) 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), the CRRMH promotes patient-centred care rather than provider-focused care that integrates mental and physical concerns. Find out more and sign up for the e-newsletter here.
Read about the origins of IFIC in the April 2019 edition of The Health Advocate on pages 28 & 29.
Want to efficiently retrieve integrated care literature via the Pub Med database? Check out the ICS filter here.
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.
Evaluation of ACT PHN commissioned psychological intervention activities – Next Step
The CRRMH, in partnership with Human Capital Alliance have been commissioned by the ACT PHN to carry out a summative evaluation of their psychological services called Next Step. Next Step takes a stepped-care approach to deliver Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based services at two levels, low and high intensity, according to the consumer’s needs. The evaluation, using mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative), looks at consumers’ access to services, the reach of the program, completion rates, and consumer experiences and outcomes.
The Good Space project (formerly known as Farm-Link) – helping people choose life! The project has trained over 1,000 individuals in an evidenced based suicide prevention skills workshop and these workshops are subject to evaluation and ongoing development with the support of the research team.
The GoodSpace team have also developed and delivered a suicide prevention skills workshop appropriate to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, called 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, the 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.
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.
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 – 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