Meeting unmet needs? The role of a rural mental health service for older people

Julie Henderson, Mikaila Crotty, Jeffrey Fuller, Lee Martinez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Rural and remote residents have been identified as a group with limited access to mental health services. Older rural people may experience additional problems due to lack of access to transport, limited opportunities for social engagement and the stigma attached to mental illness. Aim: To explore the extent to which service providers, carers and consumers view the Older Persons’ Mental Health Service (OPMHS) as meeting the needs of older people with mental health problems in rural South Australia. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted at 3 case study sites with 22 key informants from mental health teams and organisations providing care to older people and with 4 consumers and 5 carers. Results: The establishment of OPMHS clinicians at the sites studied led to increased access to specialist services for older people leading to earlier assessment and treatment of consumers. It has also led to greater service integration and knowledge sharing about older persons’ mental health. Participants identify ongoing service needs particularly for remote, CALD and Aboriginal populations and for after-hours crisis care. Conclusion: The localization of services and attachment of specialist older persons’ clinicians to rural mental health teams has enhanced service delivery for older people through enabling case management within rural communities. There are however, ongoing service needs which need to be resolved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)182-191
    Number of pages10
    JournalAdvances in Mental Health
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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