Workers living in rural and remote regions now have access to a telepsychiatry service via a secure video-conferencing platform.
Starting last June, the organisation Call to Mind has been providing individuals with quality mental health care at a time and place that best suit their needs.
People from mining communities including Mount Isa, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie has had access to the service, Call to Mind reported. Some worked in the mining industry, and some were family members of those individuals.
The organisation has had over 100 referrals from rural GPs so far.
Call to Mind hopes this is the first step in breaking down the barriers of availability, accessibility and stigma associated with mental health across the country.
Call to Mind co-founder Dave Carmody said, “Some people are using telehealth already, and industry bodies have recognised its potential, but no one has made these services streamlined and simple for everyone involved – for the public, for GPs and for psychiatrists.”
Earlier this year, the Australian Medicine Association highlighted the pivotal role that e-health and telemedicine solutions can play in addressing the lack of support and funding for mental health care.
Carmody said, “We wanted to create a supportive platform that meant doctors could focus their time and energy on providing care to those who need it most.”
Rural and remote regions of the country see significantly higher rates of mental health issues. They also have a shortage of health professionals working there to alleviate the growing crisis.
Currently, wait time for Call to Mind’s telepsychiatry service is approximately 1 to 2 weeks following a referral. In contrast, people living in remote areas usually have to endure several months of waiting period to see a psychiatrist in person.
All initial psychiatrist consultations are bulk-billed for those living in eligible areas. Ongoing private consults can be taken thereafter.
The Call to Mind team is made up of psychiatrists ranging in specialty and availability.