Mental health a big issue for bush doctors, who say don't suffer in silence.

With youth unemployment a growing problem in Boggabri and a known cause of anxiety and depression, local GPs are urging young people to seek help for mental health issues.

Dr Oshi Gunawardhana, a GP at Ochre Medical Centre, says it is vital for young people to have treatment for mental health issues, instead of dealing with them alone.

“We have a high youth unemployment rate in Boggabri and, subsequently, many young people suffer from mental health issues or are at risk of developing them,” Dr Gunawardhana said.

“We see a lot of young people reluctant to speak with their family or GP about mental health issues, for fear of being judged.”

Almost half (45 per cent) of Australians are expected to experience a mental health issue in their lifetime.

Last year, the suicide rate among young Australians reached a 10-year high, increasing by 32 per cent since 2006.

While the suicide rate in rural Australia is around 40 per cent higher than major cities.  

The New England North West region was identified as one of the top 20 hotspots in Australia for youth unemployment last year.

This year, the government announced a new $65 million Youth Employment Program in four unemployment hotspots which will help people aged 15-24 get the skills they need to land lasting jobs.

“It’s vital for young people to seek treatment for mental health issues instead of suffering in silence,” Dr Gunawardhana said.

“It always helps to talk with someone, and there are several therapies available which can make a positive difference to a person’s quality of life.”

Eight symptoms of possible mental health issues:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anhedonia or a lack of enjoyment in activities that once gave a person pleasure.
  • Conflict in the workplace
  • Loss of productivity
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss or a short attention span

If you need help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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