Rural mental health is focus of workshop

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Improving mental health and addiction outcomes in rural New Zealand was the subject of a workshop hosted by Rural Health Alliance New Zealand (RHANZ) in Gore on Monday.
‘ I know people in town, in urban areas, can feel isolated too but we need a framework in communities to bring people
together ‘
— Jeanette McIntyre
About 100 people who work in mental health and addiction throughout Southland attended the workshop at Heartland Hotel Croydon.
RHANZ chief executive officer Michelle Thompson said RHANZ was contracted by the Ministry of Health, with funding support from the Ministry for Primary Industries, to put together a proposal for a framework to improve rural mental health and addiction outcomes.
The workshop in Gore was the last of three regional workshops held throughout New Zealand. The other workshops were held in Kaikohe and Hamilton.
‘‘We’ll analyse all the information and we’ll come up with a framework,’’ Ms Thompson said.
The workshop looked at why a framework would be helpful, and how living in a rural community helped or hindered recovery from mental distress or illness.
Rural Women New Zealand member Jeanette McIntyre attended the workshop with three other Rural Women members.
She said she was looking forward to seeing the results.
The Waikaka farmer said a mental health framework would stop people from feeling isolated.
‘‘I know people in town, in urban areas, can feel isolated too, but we need a framework in communities to bring people together,’’ Mrs McIntyre said.
She said it was great to see all the different agencies and groups that attended connecting with others.
‘‘It was heartening to see something was being done,’’ she said.
‘‘It will be interesting to see what comes out of it.’’
Craig Sinclair, a volunteer for Southland Rural Support Trust who works in collaboration with Emergency Management Southland, attended the meeting as a representative of Emergency Management.
He said it would be interesting to see what sort of framework was put forward to the Government and how it covered three rural communities.
‘‘It’s a really good step because they have gone to different locations to get different perspectives.’’
The deadline for the proposal is November 30.