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Mental Health and Rural Communities in Spotlight



15 August 2008

Mental Health and Rural Communities in the Spotlight


Like all parts of New Zealand, rural families and communities experience a diverse range of health and wellbeing issues Statistical and anecdotal evidence indicates that the many pressures faced by farmers and their families can, and does often take a toll on their mental and physical health.

If you have concerns about your own mental health or the wellbeing of those around you then please read this article. It contains information about mental illnesses, how to recognise the signs and where to get more information and help.

WHAT IS A MENTAL ILLNESS?

About 47% of New Zealanders will experience a mental illness and/or addiction at some time in their lives. One in five people are affected in any one year. The impact on the individual, family and the people around them varies. Some Mental Illnesses affect individuals and families for only a few weeks, others may last a lifetime. Everyone has the capacity to recover and most do.

Mental illnesses that commonly require support and treatment include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression). Alcohol, Drug and Gambling addictions can also be a contributing factor to a mental illness for many people.

RECOGNISING THE SIGNS…

The signs that someone is unwell or experiencing a mental illness are many. They are however not always easily recognised. While some can be obvious others may be very subtle. Some of the signs commonly associated with un-wellness may include:
 Change in sleeping patterns
 Avoiding contact with people and becoming reclusive
 Panic attacks or an obsession with minor or trivial matters
 Increased use/abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
 Behaviour that upsets others or which is out of character
 A lack of motivation

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP…

For most people who experience a period of mental un-wellness or a mental illness, their local GP will be where they receive treatment and support. GPs are trained to assess, diagnose and treat individuals who have mental health needs.

For more serious or specialist support people can be referred to SDHB Mental Health Services or a range of different providers that deliver community based services. These include services to adults, families, young people, Maori and Pacific Peoples and include Alcohol and Drug Services, Family Support, Counselling, Accommodation, Peer Support and Advocacy.

-END-

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