Mapping mental health service in Tasmania - a geo-spatial distribution perspective
Le, Q and Harris, AJ, Mapping mental health service in Tasmania - a geo-spatial distribution perspective, People, Place and Space - Rethinking Regional Policy Agendas, 30 Nov - 3 Dec 2008, Adelaide, pp. 29. (2008) [Conference Extract]
Mapping mental health service in Tasmania –
a geo-spatial distribution perspective
Quynh Lê and Andrew Harris
The provision of effective mental health services has emerged as a critical issue for health service planners globally. Australia is no exception to this. Most Australian research on mental health service delivery has focussed on either broad analysis of professional groups or specific needs of particular areas or issues. For example, distinctions have been drawn between the supply and demand characteristics of rural and urban populations, drawing upon the discipline of social geography. Tasmania presents a particular set of circumstances: its major population centres are small, resulting in limited training opportunities and it has a large proportion of rural and remote population. Mental health service provision can therefore be expected to have adapted to these specific circumstances in ways that will be important in their own right and may offer a contrast to other Australian regions.
This paper examines the relationship between a range of mental health characteristics and workforce participation in Tasmania. Secondary data sources were used to map important features of the mental health workforce in Tasmania.
The study shows that location has had an impact on the distribution of mental health services. Mental health professionals in rural and remote areas are likely to work longer hours than their counterparts in major cities. Remote and socio-economically disadvantaged areas have a smaller mental health workforce. A consequence is likely to be that access to mental health services in rural and socio-economically disadvantaged areas would become more difficult as older mental health workers retire. The findings shed light on some implications for modelling and provide strategies to improve mental health services in these areas.