Focus of new Mental Health Commission is easing the burden
REGIONAL Queensland must be made a top priority by the state's new Mental Health Commission, according to Beyond Blue.
Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg named Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck as its commissioner, following her role in helping Western Australia launch its commission.
Mr Springborg said the focus would be on reforming the sector and easing the burden of drug abuse in communities.
He said Dr van Schoubroeck would "be central to improving the system that supports people living with mental illness or who misuse substances, as well as their families, carers and support networks".
Mental health advocates Beyond Blue backed the state's new commission, pushing for a focus on those living beyond city limits.
Chief executive Kate Carnell said regional and rural areas were desperate for more services.
"I think it's really important for the Mental Health Commission to look at services available outside major cities," she said.
"We would like them to work with (Beyond Blue) to remove the associated harm and stigma with mental health issues".
Those who face psychological issues in regional, rural or remote areas have a suicide rate double of those in city areas and men were particularly vulnerable.
"The stigma associated with mental health is real," Ms Carnell said.
"When you're in a small town, there are not a lot of services available and those that are - it's hard to stay anonymous.
"For some people, particularly men, the anonymity is very important.
"It shouldn't be the case. We really need to start treating mental health issues the way we treat physical issues."
Beyond Blue was keen to work alongside the commission in the fight to improve Queensland's mental health.
The QMHC will act as a unit independent of government - $3 million in funding was allocated in this month's State Budget.
APN was unable to make contact with Dr van Schoubroeck before deadline on Monday.
For those facing mental health issues themselves, Beyond Blue is available to phone on 1300 22 4636 as is Lifeline on 13 11 14.