In mid-August, Rural and Remote Mental Health featured in the Herald Sun, reporting on our trip to East Gippsland. This follows the announcement of our two-year mental health and suicide prevention program, Rural Minds, for bushfire affected communities which is proudly funded by NewsCorp’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Grant.
Our Director of Programs and Operations, Nathan Mercurio, made his way to the Gippsland Shire in Victoria to visit and meet with local rural agencies and community leaders to discuss the mental health needs of bushfire affected communities.
In 2019 fires destroyed over 14 million hectares, 3000 buildings and took 34 lives. With the generosity and commitment of NewsCorp, RRMH is able to provide ongoing mental health support to those affected by the fires.
Mental Health Australia has reported that those living in the Gippsland area experience high or very high psychological distress compared to the national average of 12.5 per cent and approximately 32,000 people are seeking mental health related prescriptions.
RRMH will work closely with local government, health services, NGOs and community groups to complement existing recovery activities and empower people to seek help. With limited mental health services in remote areas, it is crucial that community led groups are equipped for early identification and intervention of mental illness and to help those struggling.
An important development from Nathan’s visit was that some organisations had ceased to support the area making the NewsCorp contribution all the more valuable and crucial.
“Funded bushfire recovery support programs are now winding up or changing focus when the need is high and anxiety is heightened as we enter bushfire season,” said Nathan.
“Community members raised their concern that when farmers struggle, prevention and early interventions are not realistic with the financial and time pressures they face. Sadly the risk of suicide remains high or unreported.”