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Time to face up to rural mental health needs

28 August 2013

Time to face up to rural mental health needs

Federated Farmers is joining the Rural General Practice Network in calling for specific funding for rural mental health. This follows the latest annual release of suicide statistics by the Chief Coroner.

When there are more suicides in New Zealand than road deaths, drownings and workplace accidents combined, there is a serious need to change tack,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.

“Last year, 541 New Zealanders took their own lives and we know the cost of suicide painfully well in rural New Zealand.

“As the Chief Coroner, Judge Neil McLean recently told 3 News, “Farming is tough. You're at the whims of nature and markets and you have no control over this and it's hard and demanding work in isolation.

“Despite this, Budget 2013 did not include any provision to address what is believed to be an increasing rate of suicide in rural New Zealand. Federated Farmers agrees with the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network that rural mental health needs specific funding and it needs it urgently.

“It feels like mental health is where road safety was in the 1970s before we got serious about doing something about it

"The question we must ask is, how much is spent upon campaigns to prevent road deaths, drownings and occupational deaths? We all agree these things are important yet far more rural New Zealanders will die as a result of deficiencies in rural mental health provision, than through a quad bike for example.

“I know quad bikes accidents are visual and reportable, whereas rural mental health remains stigmatised and in the case of suicide, almost impossible to report.

“Yet given these numbers, some of the worst in the developed world, we need to rethink that prohibition. Not talking is just not working.

“Certainly, Federated Farmers will be showing interest when the Law Commission reports back on the subject,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.

ENDS

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