Rural and remote mental health practice in Australia

    Impact: Public policy Impact

    Impact summary

    In a national policy context whereby mental health nursing has changed as a profession in response to reduced government funding and heightened service need, the impact of socioeconomic and policy changes on rural and remote mental healthcare provision was investigated. Specifically, mental health nursing workplace experiences was examined to gain first hand knowledge of how rural and remote environments impacted workplace experiences, service needs, and institutionalised practices.

    Findings identified strategies and experiences mental health nurses working in rural and remote communities used in everyday practices that informed academic audiences, Australian policy, workplace practices, and future professional development opportunities. To address low workplace retention and high turnover rates in geographic locations where national statistics evidence high need for mental health services coupled with fewer specialists, worse healthcare access, and poorer socioeconomic conditions than urban Australia, the collection of primary data from mental health nurses impacted institutional decisions about rural and remote mental health nursing education, workplace recruitment and policy changes, and government inquiries and research.

    The findings from our research informed an Australian Government Parliamentary Inquiry into Mental Health Nursing in Australia and is cited in the Final Report for the Mental Health Commission of NSW, 2013. This research has benefited mental healthcare providers, recipients, and researchers by providing primary rural and remote data upon which to evidence inequity of service provision and systemic/infrastructure related to mental health care.

    The research evidences the social and economic impacts rural and urban inequities have on mental health care workers, and recipients, providing a basis for government reports and evidence to advocate socioeconomic change. Media releases and interviews based upon the research impacted public perception and information, as well as academic research citations evidencing the impact this research has had on interdisciplinary and disciplinary research communities.

    While the single contribution this research has made to government policy and changes to mental health service delivery in Australia cannot be distilled, the research impacted urban audiences and perceptions by extending discourse beyond metropolitan service delivery discussions to include rural and remote factors.
    Impact date20112016
    Category of impactPublic policy Impact
    Impact levelEngagement


    • mental health
    • nursing

    Countries where impact occurred

    • Australia