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Govt risking rural communities’ mental health

Matt Doocey
National party Spokesperson for Mental Health

Matt King
National Party Spokesperson for Rural Communities

17 April 2018

Govt risking rural communities’ mental health

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will begin shutting its doors due to a lack of support from the Government and may not be able to provide vital mental health services into the future, National Party spokesperson for Mental Health Matt Doocey and National Party spokesperson for Rural Communities Matt King say.

“It has been confirmed that RHAANZ will begin shutting its doors because they don’t have critical infrastructure to hold Government contacts, including the rural mental health initiative,after the Government failed to commit funding to ensure the alliance could continue,” Mr Doocey says.

“RHAANZ’s current contract to provide mental health services will continue until June 2018, however, the Governments’ unwillingness to contribute to ongoing core funding means that the organisation is now winding down.

“The Rural Health Alliance is the best placed organisation to provide life-saving mental health services to rural communities and this move by the Government puts at risk the continuity of the provision of these services.”

“We supported RHAANZ’s request for ongoing operating funding outside their existing contracts because we know that rural communities in New Zealand have different needs and face special challenges, especially when it comes to accessing mental health services,” Mr King says.

“RHAANZ carry out suicide prevention workshops and important research into rural mental health. RHAANZ also upskill rural health professionals in suicide prevention strategies and oversee a clinical champion network to work alongside the Rural Support Trusts (RSTs) across the country.

“Those in rural communities are less likely to reach out for mental health support and that’s one of the reasons why the work that RHAANZ does is so vital.

“It is deeply disappointing that around 600,000 New Zealanders in rural communities will no longer have the support of the rural health alliance. The lack of commitment by the Government to RHAANZ shows that they don’t value our rural communities.”

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