I'm a father, farmer, amateur environmentalist, and a psychiatrist. It's an odd mix, but it works.
I live and work in the country, based in Albany in Western Australia, but that was never the plan.
I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, started out studying physiotherapy at Sydney University and after a series of twists and turns I've ended up working as a country psychiatrist.
It's good to be here. I love the work I do, and I love the community I'm part of.
Working in rural areas has given me a deeper understanding of the impact of mental health issues on people's lives, especially in remote and isolated communities.
As a country psychiatrist, I work with diverse patients from different backgrounds and a broad range of mental health needs.
It's meant exploring various fields within psychiatry and really broadened my skills and experience.
It has also exposed me to the deep cracks of inequality those of us living in the bush face.
About one in five Australians will experience a mental health condition, but in rural areas, the rates of suicide, self-harm and emergency admissions for mental illness increase with how remote you live.
Put simply, rural Australians have poorer mental health outcomes and higher suicide rates than those living in capital cities.
And First Nations Australians are disproportionately impacted.
There's a reason it's harder to find help in the country. It's because there's less around.
Australia doesn't have enough psychiatrists. In fact, Australia doesn't have enough mental health workers more broadly.
But that's made even worse for those in rural Australia because the workforce is unevenly distributed across the country.
The reality is, only 14 per cent of Australian psychiatrists work in rural areas, but 29 per cent of the population - about 7 million people - live in regional, rural and remote areas.
These chronic workforce shortages are also impacting the people providing care.
In a recent survey, nine in 10 rural psychiatrists said workforce shortages were a risk to patient care.
In that same survey, seven in 10 rural, regional, and remote psychiatrists were experiencing multiple symptoms of burnout over the past three years.
They face greater volumes of patients to see, have to contend with a wide variety of problems with no access to subspecialist resources, have less resources available to help their patients and must continue to work with very little cover to take either annual, personal, sick or professional development leave.
Worryingly, about a third based in regional, rural and remote parts of the country are considering leaving the profession, or their location, in the next five years.
Often, we hear this problem talked about like rural mental health is a separate issue.
But rural mental health services don't exist in a vacuum.
They're funded by governments, and they operate in existing systems.
We don't need a new system. We need better integration and visibility, equitable resourcing and we need local and targeted strategies to address the problems we're facing here on the ground.
One of the key solutions is growing and nurturing the psychiatry and mental health workforce.
We've got to attract the young doctors drawn to live, work and train in rural Australia.
We've got to ensure there's training opportunities to support them.
And we must ensure that we look after them before they burnout under the strain and pressure currently experienced by my psychiatrist colleagues.
- Mathew Coleman is the chairman of RANZCP's Section of Rural Psychiatry.
- Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.