Region has 'highest rate of anxiety in the country'
DARLING Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network CEO claims the region has some of the highest depression and anxiety rates in the country.
CEO Merrilyn Strohfeldt said the Primary Health Network's service area, which includes the South Burnett, had the highest number of clients self-reporting anxiety, and the fourth-highest number of clients self-reporting depression, nationally.
"One of the problems is the further west you go the more sparse the mental health services,” she said.
Lives Lived Well Southwest Queensland clinical services manager James Curtain said there was a strong link between the reports of high anxiety and high unemployment in the region.
"I've got no doubt there is a direct correlation between unemployment and anxiety,” Mr Curtain said.
"Especially with the drought and youth unemployment in the region.”
Lives Lived Well is a not-for-profit drug and alcohol support service which offers free counselling and support in Kingaroy, Cherbourg, Toowoomba, Chinchilla, Warwick, Gatton, Tara and Dalby, as well as free outreach services to surrounding areas.
Mr Curtain said those suffering with anxiety and depression started to disconnect from society.
"It is tough re-engaging into every day life,” he said.
"Obviously drug and alcohol use is not the answer, but it is for them at that time.
"The goal is to find other solutions.
"We try to clarify their goals and get them to match up with their values.”
The clinical services manager at the Kingaroy-based office said things started to snowball in a positive way when those affected started taking steps forward.
"It's important to address the core things people are doing or not doing,” he said.
"A change in behaviour can impact thoughts and feelings.”
Mr Curtain said he had seen first-hand the benefits of these programs in the region.
"Once someone starts being productive, suddenly they have some energy for their children,” he said.
"Then they start engaging with their partner or their family.
"Eventually the whole community benefits.”
Mr Curtain is working hard to get South Burnett GPs on board to refer clients to their services.
"Our GPs are so busy but we are slowly working with more and more of them,” he said.
Ms Strohfeldt encouraged anyone suffering anxiety or depression to pick up the phone.
"Help is available, there is support,” she said.
There is strength in asking for help, it is not a sign of weakness.”
Mr Curtain said he would like to see the high number of self-reported anxiety cases start to decrease.
"Ideally we would like to eventually do ourselves out of a job,” he said.
For more information about Lives Lived Well, contact 1300 727 957.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact one of the below services: Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
beyondblue 1300 22 4636