Published in The Canberra Times May 13 2022

Letter to the Editor - Melita Griffin, AccessEAP Director, Customer Relationships

Regional mental health

Melissa Meehan's article on the struggling mental health system in regional Australia ("Regional post-COVID mental health crisis",, May 4) raises a troubling trend that is prevalent on a national scale. As demand for mental health support outstrips supply, companies are well-placed to support the system with early intervention.

The Australian Counselling Association reports waiting times of four to six weeks for a quarter of those living in rural and regional areas, but this is just the tip of a deep iceberg. As one of Australia's largest Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), we've had countless reports of waiting times as long as nine months.

With more than two thirds of regional Australians experiencing depression and anxiety over the past two years, it's never been more important for mental health and wellbeing providers to work together to support those in need. No one should have to suffer in silence. 

I've been encouraged in recent months that many who reach out to us have done so following a recommendation by their general practitioner. It's an important reminder that EAPs work alongside private practitioners with the same goal: to support as many people in need, as quickly as possible.

By offering counselling services through an EAP, mental health care wait times can be drastically reduced - helping to provide interim support for those in need.

This shows that while workplaces don't provide long-term medical assistance, they do have a vital role to play. Early intervention and support is critical in combating the mental health crisis and the work leaders do in their own organisations to foster employee wellbeing is an invaluable tool in providing holistic care.

In the coming months as we ease into life post-lockdowns, I hope to see even more organisations, particularly in regional areas, leading the charge for workplace wellbeing.

Melita Griffin, AccessEAP Director, Customer Relationships


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