Rural & Remote Mental Health is proud to announce its two-year mental health and suicide prevention program for bushfire affected communities.

Funded by News Corp’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Grant, the program will be piloted in Victoria’s Gippsland region. Community consultation will begin in early 2022, with the first workshops starting in April.

Rural & Remote Mental Health CEO Joe Hooper said he was excited to partner with News Corp.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to deliver improved mental health outcomes to rural and remote Aussies at an unprecedented scale. With News Corp’s support, we will be able to deliver the program across multiple states and territories, reaching the communities most impacted by bushfire,” he said.

Most rural communities are all too familiar with natural disaster. That’s especially true for the areas impacted by 2019’s Black Summer bushfires. The significant devastation included the loss of crops, livestock, homes and livelihoods.

Despite highly publicised funding announcements, many communities face massive economic hardship. There are still challenges rebuilding properties, businesses and industries.

“Our mission is to improve the mental wellbeing of rural and remote Aussies, who are at greater risk of suicide. Outside major cities, people struggle with reduced access to health care, longer waiting times and limited mental health services. Natural disasters only add to the many challenges faced by these communities,” Mr Hooper said.

“As we head into another fire season, rates of mental ill-health and trauma are likely to rise. Early identification and intervention are critical to saving lives of people who are struggling mentally or emotionally.”

Rural & Remote Mental Health focuses on community-based prevention: empowering people to look after their mental health, seek help when they need it and to support others in their community to do the same.

“Our programs have been shown to reduce stigma and encourage conversations about mental health. It’s a vital step to bridging the mental health gap that exists between major cities and the regions,” Mr Hooper explained.

“We intend to work closely with local government, health services, NGOs and community groups to complement existing recovery activities in bushfire affected regions.

“There is still so much that can be done to assist and we will be working tirelessly to improve mental health and safeguard against suicide in these communities.”