OBJECTIVE: Mental health (MH) care in remote areas is frequently scarce and fragmented and difficult to compare objectively with other areas even in the same country. This study aimed to analyze the adult MH service provision in 3 remote areas of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in the world.
METHODS: We used an internationally agreed set of systems indicators, terminology, and classification of services (Description and Evaluation of Services and DirectoriEs for Long Term Care). This instrument provided a standard description of MH care provision in the Kimberley region (Australia), Nunavik (Canada), and Lapland (Finland), areas characterized by an extremely low population density and high relative rates of Indigenous peoples.
RESULTS: All areas showed high rates of deprivation within their national contexts. MH services were mostly provided by the public sector supplemented by nonprofit organizations. This study found a higher provision per inhabitant of community residential care in Nunavik in relation to the other areas; higher provision of community outreach services in the Kimberley; and a lack of day services except in Lapland. Specific cultural-based services for the Indigenous population were identified only in the Kimberley. MH care in Lapland was self-sufficient, and its care pattern was similar to other Finnish areas, while the Kimberley and Nunavik differed from the standard pattern of care in their respective countries and relied partly on services located outside their boundaries for treating severe cases.
CONCLUSION: We found common challenges in these remote areas but a huge diversity in the patterns of MH care. The implementation of care interventions should be locally tailored considering both the environmental characteristics and the existing pattern of service provision.