THE founders of a new telepsychiatry service are urging people in Echuca-Moama struggling with mental illness to take advantage of its free consultations.
The recently launched Call to Mind aims to give people in rural and remote areas of Australia better access to quality mental health care.
Founders psychiatrist Ben Chia and advanced trainee in psychiatry Dave Carmody saw a need to better use modern technology to address the barriers to accessing quality care in rural and remote communities, which not only sees significantly higher rates of mental health issues, but a shortage of health professionals working there to alleviate the growing crisis.
Which is especially true in areas like Echuca, particularly among struggling farmers, according to Dr Carmody.
‘‘It is not just my time working in psychiatry, but also having grown up in a farming family, that means I know all too well the challenges and unpredictability that exist within the agricultural industry,’’ he said.
‘‘Stress and overwork contribute to higher rates of mental illness and suicide among these communities and the geographical realities of farming mean people are often a long way from the services that they need.
‘‘That is exactly what we are working to address and why we started Call to Mind, a supportive and tailored telepsychiatry service that means individuals anywhere in Australia can access quality mental health care.’’
Call to Mind is made up of a team of psychiatrists ranging in specialty and availability, with consultations held on a secure video-conferencing platform at a time and place that best suit people’s needs.
‘‘Our psychiatrists also bulk-bill all initial consultations for those in telehealth eligible regions like the Echuca-Moama area, a fundamental part of making our services truly accessible to under-serviced areas,’’ Dr 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.
‘‘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.’’
To see one of the Call to Mind psychiatrists for a telehealth appointment, ask your GP about a referral or visit www.calltomind.com.au