Talking about Rural Mental Health

Normalising conversations around mental health in outback Queensland

Rural Doctors Foundation’s Grants for Good Health are working hard to reduce mental health issues in rural communities. Chiefly, through the expansion of Outback Future’s HEAD YAKKA program. HEAD YAKKA is an important, lifesaving initiative for rural communities of the Barcaldine region. The program equips rural people with the skills to talk about and take care of their mental health.

A lifesaving program

Mental health issues in rural communities and our outback regions are significant. Nearly 1 in 4 outback Queenslanders are at risk of developing a mental health disorder. Suicide rates for young people in the Western Queensland regions are 4.7 times greater than the rest of the State. On top of immediate crisis services, Outback Futures identified a need for a fundamental change in perceptions of mental health issues. Both at the community and cultural level.

Outback Futures launched HEAD YAKKA in 2019 in partnership with the Barcaldine Regional Council. The program combines smarts (HEAD) and capacity for hard work (YAKKA) to bring about meaningful change.

“HEAD YAKKA is about creating a community culture of people caring for themselves and for others through a community-owned and driven process of long-term change.”


How our funding has helped mental health issues in rural communities.

When Outback Futures secured funding from Rural Doctors Foundation, it enabled the organisation to facilitate round tables and community forums. As well as to further engage the people it serves. Through our support, Outback Futures can have enough people on the ground working alongside communities to facilitate such outcomes.

HEAD YAKKA is continuing its strong work. Equipping communities to talk about and take care of their mental health into the future. Focusing even more on working alongside communities in the Barcaldine region. Helping them to develop common purpose, conversations, and activities. In order to support and promote mental health and wellbeing.

Empowering communities to have a yarn about mental health

Outback Futures is committed to tackling mental health issues in rural communities through this approach. They want local communities to be able to take the HEAD YAKKA concept on board and ultimately do it themselves. Their ultimate goal is for people to realise when they need help and feel comfortable getting it. The campaign aims to make it second nature for people to take care of their mental health. In much the same way as the iconic ’80s Slip Slop Slap campaign normalised sun safety.

HEAD YAKKA and Outback Futures are also aiming to develop models of care that suit the bush way of life. Instead of trying to bring urban models of care into country communities. In order to achieve this, they are educating health and service providers. And also facilitating ways for them to better interact with rural community members.

Help us support these important programs in rural and remote communities.

The ongoing impacts of this rural mental health initiative are positive. And they are only possible thanks to those who generously support the work of Rural Doctors Foundation. Together, we are saving lives.