A new mental health clinician has been appointed to help deliver services to the Central West
as part of a $2.9 million State Government mental health drought and disaster support package.

Central West Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Michel Lok said Jamie Small had
been appointed as the new Regional Adversity Integrated Care Clinician for the region.

He will take up his position from 6 June.

Mr Lok said the position would be based at Longreach but would service the whole of the
Central West.

He said Mr Small’s role would be to ensure mental health services throughout the Central West,
both government and non-government, were working together closely and effectively.

“The aim will be to develop networks, resources and events that build community
connectedness and resilience in the face of adversity such as drought, natural disasters and
other crises,’’ he said.

Mr Lok said Mr Small also would help train and support other health workers who were likely to
come into contact with people who were at risk of suicide or who were experiencing mental
health issues.

Mr Small, who is a psychologist, currently works with Central West Health’s Adult Community
Mental Health Team.

Prior to that, he was with the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service mental health
team and before that with the Capricornia Correctional Centre.

Mr Small said his role would involve close contact with individuals and organisations throughout
the Central West.

“People living in country areas often are reluctant to seek help, particularly with mental health
issues,’’ he said.

“We want to overcome that stigma, that reluctance to seek help.

“We also want to educate people that it’s OK to ask a person about the state of their mental
health and just as important to listen to other people’s concerns and to seek help.’’

Suicide prevention also will be a major focus.

“When times are tough, as they currently are in the bush, depression and anxiety rates often
increase,’’ Mr Small said.

“Suicide rates are also far higher in rural areas and we need to address this issue and not back
away from it.

“My role is going to be very mobile around the region and I’ll be holding a lot of kitchen table
discussions and working to identify individuals who might be at risk.

“We want to get the message across very strongly that there are people that you can talk to.

“Another major focus will be to improve coordination and collaboration between all the key
agencies in our region that are involved in mental health so that no one falls through any gaps
in our combined services.

“In particular, we will be working with the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s mental health team and
also the Central West Wellness Group to build these links.

“I am looking forward to getting out and about and meeting people.’’

The $2.9 funding for the clinicians was announced by Health and Ambulance Services Minister
Cameron Dick in November last year as part of the State Government’s $3.5 million Tackling
Adversity in Regional Drought and Disaster Communities through Integrating Health
Services scheme.

The scheme allowed for senior clinicians to be placed in nine rural and regional health services
– Central West, Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Darling Downs, South West, Cairns and
Hinterland, Townsville, Mackay and North West.

ENDS

For further information contact:
James Guthrie
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3836 0961
Jim.Guthrie@health.qld.gov.au

Download the original media statement: CWHHS-mental-health-clinician-160506.pdf