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Keywords:

  • community mental health worker;
  • general practitioner;
  • mental health;
  • referral practice;
  • rural and remote Australia

Abstract

Objective: To assess an important part of Australia's National Mental Health Strategy by examining the collaboration and referral practices between general practitioners and community mental health workers in rural and remote areas.

Design: Semistructured interviews.

Setting: Rural and remote health service region in Australia.

Participants: In total, 31 general practitioners and 14 mental health workers.

Results: Meaningful collaboration and referral practices between general practitioners and mental health workers are prevented by contradictory and ambiguous definitions involving professional roles and mental health. A pattern of negative collaboration was further magnified by the rural and remote context.

Conclusion: The implementation of Australia's National Mental Health Strategy faces serious problems in rural and remote area due to the negative collaboration and referral practices between general practitioners and mental health workers.