Mental health among adolescents in Victoria rural community 4

Mental health in a drought affected community in Victoria


Walking down the dusty streets and paths of rural Victoria under the scorching sun is discouraging. But the sight of young and promising adolescents; of course the future leaders of tomorrow loitering in rugs and others screaming at the top of their voices uttering words which they otherwise cannot relate to is devastating. In addition, it overshadows the burdens of drought even if for a second. This essay therefore seeks to outline a needs assessment for the mental health among the adolescents of rural Victoria.


Mental health has over years been culturally perceived as a punishment for committing socially unaccepted acts like theft or demonic possession from a religious perception. The victims have over years been neglected and subjected to vulnerability. They are subjected to stigma and often regarded as the cursed of the generation. Most of all these are baseless misconception which ought to be disregarded. According to World Health Organization, Mental health is the state in which human beings can soundly realize their potential and be in a position to cope with daily escapades of life with exhibition of productivity at places of work and the community at large. Approximately eight hundred thousand people raging fifteen to thirty years die annually from suicide (WHO, 2014).

There has been no clear information on the cause of mental illness. However, several researches has implied it is a complex health issue which is caused by interrelation of environmental, biological and physiological factors ( 2016). The biological cause entail: hereditary which enhances an individual’s susceptibility when exposed to other factors, infections for example streptococcus bacteria which causes pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder, a condition associated with obsessive compulsive disorder growth in children. Mental injury is the third cause which is followed by prenatal such as lack of oxygen which results to a condition called autism. Poor nutrition also contributes to mental illness development (Kiem & Austin 2013, p.1310). Physiological factors entail early experiences of trauma as a result of sexual abuse of physical torture. An important loss especially of a parent may result to neglect of the child by the caretakers which subjects them to mental illness. Lastly, environmental factors comprise of stressors which impact negatively on and individual. These could be natural calamities like drought and famine or even floods. The societal expectations for success or even indulgence in drug and substance abuse by the individual.

Adolescents are an essential group in the society whose needs are more often than not neglected. It is a crisis filled stage in development of an individual since most of the body changes of adulthood transition occur during it. According to a study done by Boyd et al., (2005 p. 4), Australia has the highest rates of suicidal deaths especially among this group. The rural adolescents are likely to face mental illnesses than their urban community counterparts. This is because such factors as limited socialization and drought effects. According to WHO 2014, twenty three percent of disabilities among the young result from mental illness.

Types of needs

These exist in three main dimensions. Perceived, expressed and organizational. Perceived needs are feelings felt by individuals or a group of people in a community (Mansuri & Rao, 2004). In health issues, they are the informal expressions of individuals or group of people with regard to what they remark to be the cause, situation of health facilities and the possible solutions to the particular health issue. These perceptions are more often than not influenced by their past experiences about a particular life essentiality. Secondly, expressed needs are those which have been upgraded from the perception level to a formal presentation level through writing or spoken word to the relevant authorities. They could be presented as complaints, requests or even petitions. Thirdly, agency determined needs are those which emanate from the decisions of external bodies like the Ministry of Health or developmental organizations. The needs however, do not necessarily match the perceived and expressed needs of the community.

Consultation with key stakeholders

Community entry is a key point in needs assessment process. A rapport has to be created with the community members. It success however is dependent on the relationship between the community health worker and the local leaders of the target community (Kiem & Austin 2013, p.1310). The key stakeholders in the needs assessment entail the local authorities, the parents of the adolescents, their teachers, ministry of health and the beneficiaries.

Information to be collected

The trends of mental conditions among the adolescents both female and male. The human resource nature of the parents and teachers especially in terms of their literacy levels. How is the nature of drought in the rural Victoria? How has drought impacted on family roles? Has it contributed to child abuse and child labor? Are the families experiencing social strife due to hunger? Are there parents engaging in drug and substance abuse due to drought? Are the adolescents struggling with identity crises? Are they emotionally withdrawn due to self-esteem and self- awareness issues? Is there a family history of mental illness among the sampled homesteads? The living conditions of adolescents with mental illnesses. Are they favorable or do they contribute to worsening of the cases. Is the community sensitized on mental health? What do they perceive it as? Are there adequate health facilities do handle mental health cases? Are the health practitioners friendly or do they criticize them? How does the community view the mentally ill? What are the psychological effects of the caregivers of the mentally ill? How do the mentally ill and the affected cope with stigma resulting from discrimination? Are there cases of suicide among the adolescents? Are there physically challenged persons who had mental illness? How did they cope with the two traumatizing conditions?

Primary data collection methods proposed

Observation is a key primary data collection tool which can be used to assess the living conditions of the mentally ill adolescents. One- on- one interviews with health practitioners are essential to gain their view of the trend of the health issue. Focus group discussions can be used especially among the parents of the victims to identify the underlying causes and the challenges they face (Kothari, 2004). Use of consent forms is key to ensure confidentiality of the information. Recording of the interviews and focus group discussions is essential since it can be used for future reference in case some information was not capture by the leader.

Secondary data collection methods

Literature review from past researches on mental health. Use of health records from health facilities or ministry of health. Use of journal article and newspaper information. This is because they provide data which has been analyzed and has been criticized by other authors which gauges its credibility.

How data may be analyzed

The data analysis will be coded manually and analyzed through Statistical Package for Social Sciences.


Adolescents are faced with various needs and one of the key ones is mental health. The factors contributing to unstable mental health range from biological, environmental to physiological. The Victorian rural adolescents are vulnerable and thus a needs assessment plan was laid to assess their susceptibility. The key stakeholders are local leaders, ministry of health, teachers who spend more time with the victims and the parents. The proposed data collection methods are deemed appropriate for the assessment.


Boyd, C.P. Aisbett, DL. Francis, Kelly, K. & Newnham, M. 2005. Issues in rural adolescent mental health in Australia. Rural and remote health “The international journal of rural and remote health research education practice and policy, 6:501, 1-9.

Kiem, A.S. and Austin, E.K., 2013. Drought and the future of rural communities: Opportunities and challenges for climate change adaptation in regional Victoria, Australia. Global Environmental Change, 23(5), pp.1307-1316.

Kothari, C.R., 2004. Research methodology: Methods and techniques. New Age International.

Mansuri, G. and Rao, V., 2004. Community-based and-driven development: A critical review. The World Bank Research Observer, 19(1), pp.1-39. (2016). What are the Causes of Mental Illness. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2016]. (2016). WHO | Mental health: a state of well-being. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2016].