Getting help and support for your mental health can be a challenge if you live outside of a major city. Take regional northern Queensland, for example. As with many regional areas, the population here has access to fewer mental health services than their city counterparts, and records a higher rate of mental health hospitalisation.
It’s a known issue. In fact, the government recently commissioned a senate inquiry into the issue of “the accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia”. Its findings will be published on November 27.
You can get mental health care right now
What do you do if you live somewhere that has limited or no access to mental health services?
One option is to drive there. However, the distance (let alone the time commitment) could be massive — and this assumes you managed to get an appointment.
People in regional areas are more likely to have a chronic health condition, which could make travel even more difficult. And if you don’t have access to a car, you may have to rely on limited public transport (if it exists at all).
Easy (and free) access to mental health care
There’s an easy way to get access to professional mental health care. It doesn’t cost you anything (other than the cost of a local phone call) and you don’t need a healthcare card. You don’t even need a referral.
If you are worried, stressed or just not feeling right, you can call NQ Connect on 1300 059 625.
You will be put through to a professional counsellor who will help and talk you through your situation.
It’s a great way to get help if you can’t get a face-to-face appointment for your mental health care.
So it’s a free and professional mental health service?
Yes. NQ Connect is a free service. All staff are paid professional counsellors how have proven they have a minimum of 456 hours of post-qualification, face-to-face counselling experience before joining.
NQ Connect is not staffed by volunteers, unlike some free mental health services. It is available to people aged 15 and over who live in the region.
It is part of the services offered by the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN).
What can I call about?
You can call about a range of issues.
Some people call because they are having relationship difficulties. Others might be grieving or are dealing with feelings or thoughts following a death.
You can call NQ Connect at any time because the line is open 24/7. If you prefer, NQ Connect also offers free online counselling via web chat.
Think of it is as if you were calling an over-the-phone nurse or getting phone-based professional health advice. With NQ Connect you’re doing pretty much the same thing, except that instead of talking about leg pain or an upset stomach, you’re getting professional advice about mental health and wellbeing.
NQ Connect is here to help you
NQ Connect is a great way to get help. The service was created specifically to help people in northern and far northern Queensland, particularly in areas with limited access to mental health services.
- The service provides free, professional counselling over the phone or online. You are encouraged to use this if you are in an area with limited services.
- NQ Connect can be used at a place and time of your choosing. You just need a phone line or internet connection. You do not need to travel long distances to get help.
- You can do it from home. You can call from the privacy of your bedroom or lounge. It’s nobody’s business but yours.
Need help? You can find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.