Minister’s whistlestop visit

MINISTER for Mental Health Kevin Humphries travelled to Orange yesterday to meet with staff at the centre for rural and remote mental health at the Bloomfield campus.

 He was here to talk about strategies in place to support farmers who are feeling the pressure of drought conditions  in western NSW.

“I have spoken with staff today who have given me an overview of the programs they have in place, how farmers can access help and seek the necessary referrals,” Mr Humphries said.

Director of community programs for the centre, Trevor Hazell said the minister was briefed on the issues that have been identified in communities in the region as being of most concern in relation to the drought in the last couple of weeks.

“One of the main issues we have had as feedback is the uncertainty farmers have about whether or not they are able to access subsidies with their individual circumstances,” he said.

He said the centre for rural and remote mental health is now focused on moving resources from other parts of the state to support the one Canowindra-based Australian rural mental health worker who is covering the western region who so far this week has visited communities in Bourke, Brewarrina, Condobolin, Walgett.

Mr Hazell said communities are being encouraged to look out for fellow farmers who may be struggling with the stress of financial pressures due to the drought and to take a whole of community approach to helping out.

“People are resilient and at times people have crap happen in their lives,” he said.

“But when we see human suffering in this circumstances and people under stress everyone in a community has a role to play to refer people to community services and counselling,” he said.

However Mr Hazell said a general practitioner for any farmers or their families experiencing difficulties connected with mental health is an appropriate starting point and counselling can be arranged.

The centre for rural and remote mental health in Orange operates under the auspices of the University of Newcastle and is funded through state and federal health initiatives.

If you or someone you know are suffering stress and anxiety or a mental health issues call the mental health access line on 1800 011 511 or lifeline on 13 11 14.

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