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Jaide Vidafar

Jaide Vidafar is a sterilisation supervisor, a former emergency dispatcher and an aspiring doctor.

3 minute read

Men's Health Week - Tackling Mental Health in Rural Areas with Dr Cameron Downes

What’s in this article

For Men’s Health Week, Jaide Vidafar sat down with Dr Cameron Downes to discuss mental health in rural men. He provides his own insights on the topic with some tips for tackling the issue.

On Men’s Health Week, we give a shout-out to mental health – it’s an especially important issue in our rural areas where it often gets overlooked. Even with all the improvements in healthcare, mental health issues among men are still a big worry.

Dr Cameron Downes, an orthopaedic surgeon in Far North Queensland, sat down with Jaide Vidafar to give us the lowdown on why mental health is so important and shares some practical tips to keep our minds healthy.

The hidden struggle

Mental health issues are everywhere, but they’re often swept under the rug, especially by men. In Australia, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women.

Dr Cameron Downes points out: “Mental health is a major health concern that men tend to overlook. Many are hesitant to seek help due to societal pressures and stigma.”

Dr Downes, a proud Far North Queensland local, knows firsthand the mental health struggles men face. “Our ability to talk about mental health problems is changing. Particularly men my age, mid-40s, are becoming more open. My children talk about mental health without batting an eyelid. It’s a big change, and an important one for men’s health.”

Dr Downes also stresses the importance of accessing mental health services: “Recognising and feeling comfortable accessing these services is key. We have good services here in North Queensland, but we are limited in the number of professionals that provide that service.”

He has some advice for those hesitant to seek help: “You never know, the person sitting opposite you that you’re seeking advice from has probably been through the exact same issue themselves. Given the environment that medicine is today, it’s as stressful as it was 30 years ago. Even among my colleagues, we are far more open about our own mental health issues. Patients should feel that the person sitting opposite them is likely to be supportive.”

Challenges in the bush

Men in rural and remote areas have their own set of challenges. Dr Downes highlights, “Distance is an issue, but we have very good services here in North Queensland. However, we are limited in the number of professionals that provide that service. The key is recognising and feeling comfortable accessing these services.”

Personal coping strategies

Dr Downes shares how he stays active and maintains his mental health despite the demands of his profession. “It’s important that you have time to reflect and time to recharge. Fortunately, I do that through keeping busy in other avenues of my life and businesses.”

Tips for men’s mental health

Improving mental health doesn’t have to be a tough slog. Here are some practical tips:

• Get moving: Regular exercise is a great way to blow off steam and lift your spirits.
• Mind your mind: Practise mindfulness and meditation to keep your head clear and stress-free.
• Lean on your mates: Having a chat with mates and family can give you the support you need.
• Talk to a pro: There is no shame in seeing a professional. Therapists and counsellors are there to lend a hand.
• Keep the conversation going: Talking openly about mental health can help break the stigma. Don’t be shy, have a conversation about it.

Addressing mental health in men is a must. By following these tips, using the resources out there, and keeping the conversation going, we can make a big difference. Dr Cameron Downes’ insights remind us how important this issue is and what we can all do to support each other.

Let’s band together to bust the stigma around mental health. Share this article to raise awareness and encourage your mates to take steps towards better mental health.

Resources and support

If you’re doing it tough with mental health, here are some useful resources:

Lifeline: A crisis support service offering 24/7 assistance. Call 13 11 14.
Beyond Blue: Provides info and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best mental health.
Headspace: Offers mental health support for young people aged 12-25.


About Dr Downes

Dr Cameron Downes is a dedicated orthopaedic surgeon specialising in spinal health. Raised in Far North Queensland, Cameron has always been passionate about serving his community. He extends his expertise to rural and remote places, including Central Queensland and Ingham, and actively supports rural healthcare initiatives.

Dr Cameron Downes

Growing up across the Cape with a single mother who served as a nurse, Jaide Vidafar developed a profound respect for healthcare from a young age. Now an aspiring doctor, Jaide is passionate about improving healthcare accessibility in rural and remote communities.