Mental Health Counsellors To Help Drought-Stricken Farmers
$6.3 million to help struggling land workers.
A new squad of mental health workers will assist drought-stricken farmers thanks to a funding boost committed by the NSW Government to help workers on the land tackle depression and anxiety.
Farmers impacted by the emotional impacts of drought will have access to 20 new ‘farm gate’ counsellors and frontline mental health workers under a $6.3 million package announced on Sunday, tipping NSW’s drought aid package to more than $1 billion.
The funding boost comes as farmers feel the pinch of blistering drought conditions, with 100 per cent of NSW now affected by one of the worst droughts in 50 years – conditions which have prompted a mental health crisis among the state's farmers.
As farmers feel the impact of worsening drought conditions, rates of depression and anxiety among farmers have significantly worsened, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
"The drought has increased mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in rural communities and households, which is why we're putting boots on the ground in these areas to make sure help reaches those who need it most," Berejiklian said.
"We have already committed more than $1 billion in drought support, and this is another way we're helping our farmers and rural communities during these challenging conditions."
The crisis workers will be based in the Western, Hunter New England, Murrumbidgee, Nepean Blue Mountains, South Western Sydney and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health Districts.
The funding will be provided over two years to give farmers and their families 44,000 hours of mental health crisis support.
The boost comes after a series of support packages were announced by the federal and state Governments, with a $190 million package to provide financial relief to desperate farmers in early August.
The announcement comes just over a month after a fresh funding injection tipped the New South Wales government's drought assistance over $1 billion.
Emotional support for drought-afflicted farmers is essential to build resilience in communities, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said.
"Our farmers and their families are under daily pressure to feed stock, operate a business and keep the household running and there is no doubt this takes its toll your wellbeing," Barilaro said.
"We have increased the number of 'farm gate' counsellors on-hand ready to talk to farmers, individuals and business owners in our regional communities and walk side-by-side with them through this drought."
The new mental health workers will build on the existing Rural Adversity Mental Health Program.
The package will also see more education for existing support staff and see 10 wellbeing events held across the state in Dubbo, Yeoval, Narromine, Nyngan, Bourke, Coonamble, Walgett, Coonabarabran, Mudgee and Gilgrandra.
If you are in need of mental health support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.