The NSW Nationals in the state government are deploying 15 full-time equivalent specialist counsellors across rural NSW to help prevent suicide, with the first two counsellors starting in the Eurobodalla and Snowy Mountains regions.
NSW Nationals Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said the relatively high rates of suicide in rural areas were devastating families and communities, and the $6.75 million investment would add another layer of help.
“Many factors can contribute to suicide, from domestic violence, to relationship issues or unemployment, to stress and hardship,” Mrs Taylor said.
“These specialist mental health counsellors are there on the ground to support people thinking of suicide or impacted by suicide, and I encourage communities across the state to lean on them for support.”
Director Mental Health Drug and Alcohol for Southern NSW Local Health District Damien Eggleton said he wanted more people to ask for help when they needed it.
“Our rural communities have proven beyond a doubt they’re resilient and fearless when faced with adversity, whether that be geographic isolation, searing drought or the impact of the current pandemic – but they don’t need to go it alone,” Mr Eggleton said.
“The support provided by these counsellors will complement the peer work and drought support provided by our farm gate counsellors and drought counsellors.”
From the bush, for the bush
Rural counsellor Samara Byrne said she wanted young people to know there were people to turn to when feeling overwhelmed with life or feeling like a burden on others.
“We are here for you and here to listen if you are feeling distressed, anxious or a burden to loved ones. The service is easily accessible through the Mental Health Line; just ask for the rural counsellor,” she said.
“Having moved from Sydney in 2016 to our beautiful farm, I am so pleased to be able to do what I am most passionate about, supporting people’s wellbeing in rural Australia and building on the natural local community resilience”.
Mrs Taylor urged people in the bush to get help by contacting these rural counsellors.
“Support is available, all you need to do is pick up the phone and make an appointment by calling the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511,” Mrs Taylor said.
The 15 rural counselling positions are part of the Towards Zero Suicides; a $87 million investment over three years in new suicide prevention initiatives. This is a whole-of-government commitment to transforming the way we identify and support anyone impacted by suicide.
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately in a life-threatening situation by calling 000 or seek support though one of these services:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
- NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511