Increased focus on rural depression

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today announced increased training for rural health professionals and community leaders to tackle depression in rural communities.

The commitment is the second part of the one-off $500,000 funding boost for mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities announced at Fieldays.

“Raising awareness of mental health issues in rural communities is important, but you also need the professional support with the right skills to help those who are at risk,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Ministry of Health will work closely with Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and DHBs to provide around 40 training workshops in 20 different locations on mental health issues, for health professionals, business networks and communities.

“This funding will boost the skills of health professionals such as GPs, nurse practitioners and pharmacists working in rural areas. It will also allow greater coverage of training for people with specific farming-related jobs, such as farm consultants and stock agents.

“In addition to the workshop sessions, clinical champions will be identified and appointed. These champions will work to promote best practice and encourage discussions around rural depression to continue.”

The Ministers previously announced that in collaboration with Dairy NZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, up to 100 support people will be trained to work for Rural Support Trusts, providing guidance and support to farmers around the country. They will be able to recognise and refer those who need support.

“This expanded workforce support network has just started operating in the Waikato and more trained rural supporters will be working in communities by the end of September,” says Mr Guy.

“Farmers are resourceful and are used to coping with all kinds of challenges. While this season may be tough for some, we know that many parts of the primary sector are seeing increased export returns. The medium to long term outlook for the primary sector is bright with the rise of Asia and growing global demand for high quality food products.”

Written stories and videos from rural men and women who have been affected by depression can now be found at www.depression.org.nz/rural

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