New report tracks the ups and downs of the mental health of young Aussies in rural areas

07 Sep 2021

Mental health service ReachOut has released a new report which provides vital insights into the mental health of young people living in regional, rural and remote (rural) areas across Australia, tracked over a five year period.* The report includes indications that the mental health of young people in these areas is worsening, alongside more positive findings such as that rural young peoples’ mental health literacy is improving.

From 2017–2021 the report found an increase in probable serious mental illness amongst rural young people from 20.9 per cent to 27 per cent. The data from 2021, in particular, showed that of all age groups included in the research, 18–19 year olds were the group most likely impacted by mental ill health. The report also found a significant increase in the proportion of rural young people concerned about the future, from over 15 per cent in 2017 to over 33 per cent in 2021.

However, the report also shows that rural young people’s mental health literacy is improving. For example, there was a greater awareness of what services are available (including increased awareness of ReachOut from 19 per cent in 2017 to 30 per cent in 2021). Not only were young people aware of the mental health services, but over 53 per cent also indicated a willingness to access online mental health services in 2021, compared to just over 20 per cent in 2017.

Ashley de Silva, CEO of ReachOut, said that this report demonstrates the complexity of mental health challenges for young people living in rural areas across Australia and the need for ongoing and tailored support.

“The findings of ReachOut’s new report about the mental health of young people in rural areas are sadly not surprising. During this time, communities have faced drought, natural disasters and a global pandemic.

“These figures reinforce the need to focus on rural populations as a priority for mental health services. There can be many challenges associated with accessing mental health support in regional areas, which is why free, easy access to online services like ReachOut are so vital.

“In 2016, ReachOut recognised that there was an opportunity to better support rural young people. This was made possible by Future Generation Global’s incredible five-year funding commitment, which provided a unique opportunity to grow the reach, support and impact of ReachOut within rural communities in a considered and meaningful way.”

Emily Fuller, Social Impact Manager, Future Generation said that this report demonstrates the importance of listening to young people when it comes to supporting their mental health.

“Future Generation Global is proud to support ReachOut investing in the future of young people in rural and regional Australia, who show exceptional resilience and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. We
believe that listening to them and shaping mental health support in line with their views is the way to improve outcomes. Young people know what they need, the question is are we hearing them and making
it happen.”

For more information about ReachOut visit

*Young people surveyed were 16-25 years of age. The research covers the time period from 2017-2021.

Download the report.


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