Background: Up to 20% of Australian adolescents experience the burden of having a mental health problem. Prior research has suggested that inhabitants of rural areas are at particular risk of mental health morbidity due to their location. The current study sought to investigate how 'rurality' influences the mental health of adolescents in rural South Australia, and to explore the perceptions of the mental health needs of adolescents as described by service providers in rural South Australia. Methods: Four focus group discussions and 14 interviews were conducted with 38 human (allied health) service providers in the Eyre Peninsula, Spencer Gulf, Limestone Coast and Greater Green Triangle regions of South Australia. Semi-structured telephone interviews were also conducted with three Victorian human service providers. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed to identify emergent themes. Results: Ninety codes were developed and subsequently categorised into five major themes: Community and Society Factors; Youth Issues, Indigeneity; Service Delivery and Utilisation; and Occupational Factors. Significant gaps in mental health service delivery were identified. Better utilisation of current resources was identified as a greater concern than the absence of resources per se. Conclusions: This study provided a unique opportunity for rural allied and primary health care service providers to discuss adolescent mental health issues in their communities and as part of their work. The data generated by these discussions identified areas where practice could be improved.
- Allied health professionals
- Mental health