The Wesley Medical Research institute has launched NaviCare, a new community mental health service funded by mining company Mitsubishi Development (MDP) in the Bowen Basin.
NaviCare was developed following world-class research by Wesley Medical Research in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation, which revealed numerous service gaps for residents seeking mental health care delivery in the Bowen Basin mining communities.
MDP donated $500,000 for Wesley Medical Research to conduct research on the impact COVID-19 continues to have on community mental health in the Bowen Basin – a community already at a higher risk of poor mental health.
“We knew our mining communities, including our workforce would be more vulnerable in this environment and whilst there are already so many organisations doing great work in this space, people are still falling through the gaps,” Mitsubishi Development chief executive officer Sadahiko Haneji said.
“The NaviCare service is about providing a local and trusted Care Navigator in the community to tailor solutions to an individual’s unique situation – bridging any gaps by pairing support available in the community with specialist options available in other locations through new mechanisms like Telehealth.”
Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the region had an increasing demand for mental health support.
“We believe people living and working in rural and remote areas deserve the same access to mental health services as those living in our major cities,” Baker said.
Wesley Medical Research chief executive officer Dr Claudia Giurgiuman said the study has shown an increasing demand for mental health care has not been met with a proportional increase in services, largely due to the challenges associated with rural and remote areas.
“As with most regional communities, a lower socioeconomic profile, higher rates of homelessness, drugs and alcohol, and domestic violence exist, and are connected with reduced mental health outcomes,” Giurgiuman said.
While outreach services are crucial in this environment, the research revealed there remains a stigma related to mental health which may lead to decreased health-seeking behaviour.
“Unfortunately, mental health is still something people in the Bowen Basin are not comfortable talking about and this can impact on how quickly an individual reaches out for help,” Isaac NaviCare care navigator Kelly McGrath said.
A lack of psychology services for children and youth, as well as a general lack of mental health services, particularly those that are face-to-face and affordable, are among the key findings of the research.