We are excited to be connecting with Dr. Nelly Oelke throughout the course of her study leave in Australia! Dr. Oelke is an Advisory Committee member for the Rural Health Services Research Network of BC and will be continuing her work on exploring the mental health impacts of climate change events in rural communities among men and adults who are over the age of 50 at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health. Stay tuned at the end of every month to learn more about the evolution of her work in Orange, Australia.
November 1, 2019
I just arrived back from Adelaide yesterday from the conference on Rural and Remote Mental Health. It was a great conference, focusing on various initiatives across Australia in rural mental health and suicide prevention. On Day 1, David Perkins, Director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, presented The Orange Declaration on rural and remote mental health. The Declaration presents 10 key issues in rural and remote mental health and provides 10 possible solutions. Authors of the Declaration are very interested in the relevance of the same internationally. My first thoughts in reading the Declaration, I see the issues in Canada being fairly similar. What are your thoughts on the Declaration? Is it relevant to the Canadian context? How are the issues similar and are there any gaps in the Declaration given our Canadian context? I would be interested in hearing from you—please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The folks here at the Centre would be very keen to hear our feedback.
Karla Thorpe, Director, Prevention and Promotion Initiatives, Mental Health Commission of Canada also presented at the conference. She provided an overview of mental health and rural communities in Canada and emphasized work they were doing with Inuit communities in Nunavut. She also presented on a suicide prevention initiative, “Roots of Hope” currently under development in several communities in Canada, including several rural communities. Karla and I had an opportunity to connect and talk about work in Canada in this area.
There were several other themes and meaningful quotes made by several speakers in presentations at the conference. One quote, made several times in response to different presentations given its importance to mental health was the following: “If we are not doing human rights, we are not doing mental health,” Russel Roberts, Chair of the Conference Committee and Associate Professor, School of Management and Marketing, Charles Stuart University, Bathhurst, NSW, Australia. Russel is also the Chair of the National Alliance for Rural and Remote Mental Health.
Dr. Ernest Hunter, from the Cairns Institute, James Cook University was another dynamic speaker. He spoke about Australian remote Indigenous populations and mental health and wellbeing. He started his presentation though by drawing the link between climate change and mental health and referring to climate change as being the biggest mental health issue at present and the need for addressing the topic. Evidence of both mental health concerns and programs to address these concerns, particularly, related to drought, were evident throughout the conference. Many areas in Australia had recorded the driest 33 months on record.
On our trip back to Orange, the evidence of the drought and bush fires was clear. I managed to take this picture just before landing in Orange. The air quality with smoke is very apparent and also the very dry condition of the land. The forecast includes some rain for various areas of Australia over the next few days. Here’s hoping that there is a substantive amount of the same.