Help your colleagues receive recognition.

Nominate for the CRANAplus' 2021 Awards across four categories today. Find out more here.

Mental health support available for rural frontline nurses

17 Sep 2020

Health pro­fes­sion­als in drought and bush­fire-affect­ed rur­al com­mu­ni­ties have access to extra resources to help them deal with the men­tal health fall­out from these events.

CRANAplus, the peak pro­fes­sion­al body for Australia’s remote and iso­lat­ed health work­force, has received Com­mon­wealth fund­ing to pro­vide a suite of webi­na­rs, pod­casts, and tai­lor-made work­shops for those work­ing on the front­line, to keep them­selves and their com­mu­ni­ties resilient. 

Fed­er­al Region­al Health Min­is­ter, Mark Coul­ton said nurs­es are the lifeblood of rur­al areas, respond­ing to com­plex health needs away from major hos­pi­tals and need­ed sup­port to car­ry out this vital role. 

We can­not over­state the impor­tant role our remote nurs­ing work­force has in help­ing their local com­mu­ni­ties get through these tough times,” Min­is­ter Coul­ton said. 

The CRANAplus men­tal health train­ing work­shops are unique and tai­lored to the spe­cif­ic needs of clin­i­cians in a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ty to help build long-term resilience in our rur­al and remote health workforce. 

With the sum­mer months fast approach­ing, it is impor­tant to pre­pare for the upcom­ing bush­fire sea­son by ensur­ing our health pro­fes­sion­als are well sup­port­ed to respond and help rur­al com­mu­ni­ties who might face addi­tion­al chal­lenges in the months ahead.” 

Min­is­ter Coul­ton said Nurs­ing in the Com­mu­ni­ty Week (1420 Sep­tem­ber) pro­vid­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to thank all rur­al and remote nurs­es who con­tin­u­ous­ly put their heart and soul into car­ing for com­mu­ni­ties, espe­cial­ly this year as we face the addi­tion­al chal­lenge of man­ag­ing COVID-19

I want to thank all the nurs­es who often go above and beyond the call of duty to care for rur­al and remote com­mu­ni­ties, this year has already been par­tic­u­lar­ly chal­leng­ing for rur­al Aus­tralia,” Min­is­ter Coul­ton said. 

CRANAplus CEO, Kather­ine Isbis­ter said many rur­al com­mu­ni­ties have dealt with years of drought, com­pound­ed by last summer’s dev­as­tat­ing bush­fires and now COVID-19

Our pri­ma­ry health clin­i­cians are start­ing to see an increase in com­plex, trau­ma-relat­ed men­tal health pre­sen­ta­tions linked to these events, and we need to sup­port them to con­tin­ue car­ing for their com­mu­ni­ties,” Ms Isbis­ter said. 

In many cas­es, our rur­al and remote health pro­fes­sion­als have been through the same trau­mas and chal­lenges as their patients and they haven’t had a break to be able to look after their own wellbeing” 

CRANAplus Psy­chol­o­gist, Cath Walk­er said the free resources were devel­oped in con­junc­tion with experts in the field of dis­as­ter recov­ery and men­tal health, and can be accessed via the CRANAplus website. 

Ms Walk­er said con­sul­ta­tions with clin­i­cians in remote and rur­al com­mu­ni­ties have led to train­ing con­tent being devel­oped across four key areas: 

  • Effects of dis­as­ter, long term stress, com­mon reac­tions and help­ful responses. 
  • Poten­tial for sec­ondary trau­ma and burnout in health pro­fes­sion­als and oth­er carers. 
  • Resilience and self-care strate­gies to reduce the poten­tial long-term effect on per­son­al health and wellbeing. 
  • Increas­ing con­fi­dence with con­ver­sa­tion about men­tal health using basic lis­ten­ing, coun­selling and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills.

The pro­longed dis­as­ter-relat­ed stress being expe­ri­enced by some of our rur­al and remote com­mu­ni­ties is plac­ing sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure on iso­lat­ed clin­i­cians, who may not have had men­tal health train­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly when com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers are unable to trav­el to access spe­cial­ist men­tal health care, so it’s vital to pro­vide tools to help the helpers,” Ms Walk­er said. 

Min­is­ter Coul­ton said the Fed­er­al Government’s invest­ment totalled more than $13 mil­lion over three years to CRANAplus to pro­vide remote health pro­fes­sion­als, includ­ing com­mu­ni­ty nurs­es, with access to train­ing, pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices and men­tal health support. 

This builds on exist­ing sup­port avail­able to pro­vide trau­ma-informed care and men­tal health first aid train­ing to front­line health­care and emer­gency work­ers, under the Aus­tralian Government’s $76 mil­lion Sup­port­ing the Men­tal Health of Aus­tralians Affect­ed by Bush­fires pack­age.

Health pro­fes­sion­als in areas affect­ed by drought and/​or bush­fires inter­est­ed in a hav­ing a local men­tal health train­ing work­shop can con­tact Nation­al Project Man­ag­er Kristy Hill at kristy@​crana.​org.​au or vis­it crana​.org​.au to access the free resources. 

This ini­tia­tive com­ple­ments our exist­ing CRANAplus Bush Sup­port Ser­vices 24/7 toll-free sup­port line, 1800 805 391, for rur­al and remote health pro­fes­sion­als and their fam­i­lies,” Ms Isbis­ter said. 

Media con­tacts: Min­is­ter Coul­ton: Steph Nicholls 0417 314 920 | CRANAplus: Denise Wilt­shire 07 4047 6400 or 0419 359 325