Drought stricken farmers to receive mental health support

Drought stricken farmers to receive mental health support

Senior clinicians will be placed in nine rural health services throughout Queensland as the central part of the Palaszczuk Government’s efforts to support the mental health of farmers struggling with the drought.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said a dedicated scheme to better integrate clinical care and community support was being set up to provide a more comprehensive approach to tackling mental health issues in rural communities.

$2.9 million is being allocated to the Tackling Adversity in Regional Drought and Disaster Communities through Integrating Health Services scheme as well as $600,000 to community-based projects which would better support rural people struggling with the drought.

This comes on top of the $1.5 million allocated to support the Royal Flying Doctor’s Drought Wellbeing Service announced in the Budget.

“The rates of suicide in rural Queensland are far greater than in the rest of the state, and those areas worst affected are those suffering from drought,” Mr Dick said.

“More than 80 per cent of Queensland is currently in drought and the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting that there will be little respite this summer.

“The people of Western Queensland are strong and resilient, but the horrific economic effects of the drought are hitting many of them hard, and some are struggling to cope with what are very difficult circumstances.”

Mr Dick said that 40 per cent of men living in rural communities who died by suicide had contact with a health professional prior to their death, and so places such as hospitals, primary healthcare services and specialist healthcare services were well placed to intervene with people at risk of suicide.

“The main purpose of this package is to identify people at risk of suicide and work with community organisations to address these issues,” he said.

Mr Dick said senior clinicians would be placed in the Central West, Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Darling Downs, South West, Cairns and Hinterland, Townsville, Mackay and North West Hospital and Health Services.

“The key role of these clinicians will be to provide an integrated model of care across the health system for people with mental health issues, particularly those at risk of suicide,” he said.

The Palaszczuk Government is also allocating $600,000 to enable communities to develop and promote resilience building programs.

“The purpose of these grants are to support community networks where there are some people trained in mental health awareness and providing support diagnosis,” Mr Dick said.

“There are many bush people who are proud people who do not want to admit that they are struggling and are loath to visit a health professional.

“But their neighbours and mates know. This is about getting those networks going so that we can reach those people who really need help.”

This mental health support package is in addition to the $50 million over four years allocated by the Palaszczuk Government to help farmers struggling in the drought.

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