Drought, virus impacts youth mental health

·1-min read

The mental health of young people in rural areas has worsened over the past five years, but they are more aware of what help is available.

Mental health service ReachOut has tracked the views of young people in regional, rural and remote areas across Australia over five years.

A report released on Tuesday found there had been a rise in probable serious mental illness from 20.9 per cent to 27 per cent.

The data from 2021, in particular, showed that of all age groups included in the research, 18 to 19 year olds were the group most likely impacted by mental ill health.

The rate of concern among rural young people about the future has more than doubled over the period.

However, the report also shows mental health literacy is improving.

Awareness of ReachOut's services rose from 19 per cent in 2017 to 30 per cent in 2021, with 53 per cent indicating a willingness to access online mental health help in 2021 compared to just over 20 per cent in 2017.

ReachOut CEO Ashley de Silva said young people outside Australia's cities needed free and easy access to online mental health services.

"During this time, communities have faced drought, natural disasters and a global pandemic," he said.

"These figures reinforce the need to focus on rural populations as a priority for mental health services."

ReachOut's rural services are backed by Future Generation Global, under a five-year funding commitment.

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