Free 24/7 support service offers a lifeline to remote and rural health workers


Free 24/7 support service offers a lifeline to remote and rural health workers

Remote and rural health workers make a difference to people’s lives every day, supporting those who may be at their lowest ebb, and keeping the communities in which, they live healthy and safe.

But who helps the health workers when the stresses of work, and life, become too much?

The CRANAplus Bush Support Line is a 24/7 telephone service offering free psychological support for this critical workforce, and their families. For decades, the service has been a lifeline for those facing personal or work-related challenges while delivering essential health services beyond Australia’s major cities.

With Australia’s remote and rural communities reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters including bushfires, drought and flooding, the provision of easily accessible, meaningful support for health workers has never been more important, says not-for-profit organisation CRANAplus, which provides the Bush Support Line as part of its suite of services for the remote, isolated and rural health workforce.

“It’s a common trait of those who work in caring professions to put others first and to carry on regardless of their own feelings of fatigue, worry or stress,” says CRANAplus Chief Executive Officer Katherine Isbister. “But it’s also the case that health workers can face incredibly challenging and confronting situations on any given day – meaning they are more likely than others to need mental health and wellbeing support. I understand this from lived experience as a registered nurse.”

CRANAplus recently launched a new digital campaign to remind Australia’s remote and rural health workers and their families that they don’t have to go it alone if they’re finding it difficult to cope. A digital toolkit has been developed for supporters to share, to help raise awareness that free, confidential support from psychologists is available to remote and rural health workers on 1800 805 391.

“Health care professionals are just a phone call away from the help they need,” says Ms Isbister. “We know that feelings of stress and anxiety don’t just happen during business hours. If you need support in the middle of the night, or at the weekend, our professional psychologists are there for you. Just call 1800 805 391 and let us make sense of what’s happening and offer strategies to improve your wellbeing.”

The Bush Support Line is available to any professional providing health care in remote or rural communities, including nurses, doctors, midwives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners, paramedics, aged care workers, allied health professionals, interns and students. It is not restricted to dealing with workplace issues. Health workers and their families can discuss feelings of isolation or anxiety, how to adjust to a new community, or personal challenges.

“We want to remind people that it’s only human to need a bit of help every now and then, regardless of how resilient you feel you may be,” Ms Isbister says. “The challenges that remote and rural health workers face are very different from those in larger regional and urban areas, particularly now that many are unable to travel or enjoy a bit of down time due to the pandemic.

“We saw a significant rise in the number of calls to the Bush Support Line in 2020, so we know there is a huge need for this service. We want to encourage every health worker who needs help to give us a call.”

The Bush Support Line is open 24 hours, seven days a week. The service is free of charge and callers can remain anonymous if they choose. Call 1800 805 391.

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