Objective: To explore the views of community-care and mental health workers on barriers to the management of mental health problems in rural Western Australia, and how these could be addressed. Design: Qualitative content analysis of semi-structured interviews. Setting: Community and mental health services in Esperance. Subjects: One hundred per cent of relevant mental health workers, 86% of community health professionals and representatives from a wide range of community organisations were interviewed (n = 38). Main outcome measures: The views of community-care and mental health workers on barriers to the management of mental health, and how these could be addressed. Results: Barriers included confusion about the role of mental health services, limited after-hours access and help for those in situational crisis, communication problems between services, differences in working practices and difficulties in dealing with the stigma of mental illness in rural communities. Suggested solutions were an expansion of counselling services and multi-agency shared care with clinical streams for adults, those aged textgreater 65 and children. Conclusion: This study revealed a number of barriers that are being addressed through a memorandum of understanding between services.