PSYCHOLOGIST EXPLAINS: ‘rural people need more help’
DOCTOR Tim Driscoll has hosted another mental health workshop in the small town of Proston after he saw a need for education and support.
Dr Driscoll is a clinical psychologist and clinical lead for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) outback mental health team.
While working for RFDS he has had the opportunity to work in many rural parts of Queensland.
Dr Driscoll provides mental health services to those living in rural and remote Australia with limited access to other services and training.
He also provides support for those impacted by drought and flood.
Dr Driscoll grew up on a sheep and cattle property in Western Australia and has a passion for working to improve the access to mental health services in rural Australia.
On Wednesday, Dr Driscoll delivered an Introduction to Bipolar Disorder workshop to about 40 Proston locals. This workshop was run with the help of Darling Downs Health.
"Last year I came here to do a similar event but on anxiety and depression," Dr Driscoll said.
"We had a huge turnout then and a lot of people requested for there to be an informative session on bipolar disorder.
"Although it's not an overly common disorder, you'd still find about 2 per cent of us are living with bipolar disorder. Of course, bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 have different rates."
Dr Driscoll explained the more severe bipolar, which includes more manic episodes, was the rarer bipolar 1.
Whereas bipolar 2 was much more common.
"A manic episode involves a huge amount of energy, which in the early stages may seem positive, but then people may start doing things they later regret or don't even remember," Dr Driscoll said.
"The other problem is they will usually stop sleeping and essentially burn themselves out. It really can disrupt their lives.
"However with the right resources and support it is a condition that can be managed."
Dr Driscoll said it could be especially hard for those living with bipolar in rural areas such as the South Burnett.
"There really are limited places to go and seek help in small communities like Proston," he said.
"It's also the case that when living rurally, those who are struggling with their mental health may wait longer before getting help.
"So by the time they actually try to get medical attention it's already gotten really bad.
"Mental health isn't worse out west than it is in city areas - everyone struggles no matter where they live.
"The difference is out here people tend to feel less comfortable getting the help and medical attention they need.
"I think that also comes down to how you can't really do it discreetly.
"If there are only a few psychologists in town then everyone is going to see and know what you're doing when you go there for help."
Dr Driscoll said the ongoing stigma attached to seeking help also played a part.
"Of course there is a stigma," he said.
"I think it's slowly reducing though and that more people are reaching out.
"Particularly men. There's been a huge increase in men using mental health service rurally, which has been great to see."
Dr Driscoll said he hoped to return to Proston in a few months to deliver another educational mental health workshop.
"We've had requests for one on post-traumatic stress disorder."