The Nationals in Government have invested $6.3 million in frontline mental health workers as severe drought continues to put pressure on our farming communities.

Twenty new ‘farm gate’ counsellors will help people in drought-affected areas as they struggle to come to grips with grief and loss as the situation continues. It is often difficult to seek help when living in remote and rural areas, but this new funding will link people struggling with their mental health into services appropriate to their needs.

The funding for mental health support throughout the next two years will ensure individuals, families and businesses have access to 44,000 hours of crucial mental health support close to home.

This drought has increased mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in rural communities and households, which is why the Nationals in Government have worked to make sure help reaches those who need it most, on top of the $1 billion in drought support already on the table.

NSW Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro said putting mental health support at the centre of the State’s response to the drought was critical to ensure communities built resilience to brave it through the severe conditions.

“Our farmers and their families are under daily pressure to feed stock, operate a business and keep the household running and there is no doubt this takes its toll your well-being,” Mr Barilaro said. “Simply being able to speak to someone about your mental health is one of the strongest tools we have to get through these challenging times. We have increased the number of ‘farm gate’ counsellors on-hand ready to talk to farmers, individuals and business owners in our regional communities and walk side-by-side with them through this drought.”

The new mental health positions, which build on the existing Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, will be based in rural and regional Local Health Districts. The funding will also provide vital education for existing frontline support staff and 10 local well-being events to be held in towns across the State.

The community events will be held in Dubbo, Yeoval, Narromine, Nyngan, Bourke, Coonamble, Walgett, Coonabarabran, Mudgee and Gilgrandra.

Information on the drought assistance measures the NSW Government has in place can be accessed here. Information on the drought assistance measures the Federal Government has in place can be accessed here.

If you are worried about anyone, farmer or otherwise, who is doing it tough, please encourage them to seek help. Rural financial counsellors provide referrals to counsellors and support to access programs and there are also a number of phone and web-based support services of particular help to farmers. They allow access to expertise without the need to travel and are fully confidential. For crisis support please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information on mental health services in your community contact the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511, or visit www.crrmh.com.au for rural mental health information.