$ 6.3 million to help drought-stricken farmers who have mental health problems


September 2, 2018 12:37:11

While farmers continue to fight against what some have described as the worst drought in living memory, the New South Wales government today announced that it will provide a financial boost to mental health services.

Drough affected communities across NSW have access to 20 new farmgate counselors and frontline mental health professionals as part of a $ 6.3 million package.

The new positions in mental health, building on the existing Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, will be based in the Western, Hunter New England, Murrumbidgee, Nepean Blue Mountains, South Western Sydney and Illawarra Shoalhaven local health districts.

Minister of Mental Health Tanya Davies said the funding would be rolled out in the next two years.

"We expect local health districts in those regions to begin recruiting immediately," she said.

"In some cases they will have staff who can take over these roles immediately, but we are looking for this extra support to start as soon as possible.

"Our first funding of $ 6.3 million is for two years, which we plan to do is assess the extent of the drought, assess its severity and get feedback from our communities in terms of what they need.

"We are prepared to reassess what should happen in two years."

Extra guidance on the ground and more research

A key focus of the package is to provide free & # 39; on-farm counselors to connect people who may struggle with their mental health with support services.

It will also provide another five Rural Adversity Mental Health Program coordinators to build on the existing 14 coordinators who are already based in NSW.

Davies said the goal was to provide farming families with a flexible tool that was easily accessible.

"We want to send these workers to them, wherever they are – on the farm, talking about machines, in the paddock or around the kitchen table," she said.

"We are going to send these employees away to meet the farmers and their families and ensure that we get a complete assessment of what they need."

The package also includes funding for a study on the type, duration, target population and distribution of mental health care in NSW, with a specific emphasis on drought.

The research is intended to identify existing support services and to contribute to the development of new interventions in regional and remote areas.

Set of community events to raise awareness

In addition to the farmers guidance services, ten local welfare events are held in the national NSW.

The community days, managed by the non-profit National Association for Loss and Grief, will be designed to increase engagement with local support services and include free mental and physical health checks.

The events are held in Dubbo, Yeoval, Narromine, Nyngan, Bourke, Coonamble, Walgett, Coonabarabran and Gilgandra.

Mrs. Davies said the activities would be planned in the next 12 months with more to follow.


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