Support for drought-striken farmers’ mental health

GREATER mental health support is set to identify drought-stricken farmers at risk of suicide and work with community organisations to help them.

Queensland Government funding of $2.9 million will allow for senior clinicians to be placed in nine rural health services statewide - central west, Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Darling Downs, South West, Cairns And Hinterland, Townsville, Mackay and North West Hospital and Health Services.

"The rates of suicide in rural Queensland are far greater than in the rest of the state, and those areas worst affected are those suffering from drought," Health Minister Cameron Dick said.

"More than 80% of Queensland is currently in drought and the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting that there will be little respite this summer.

"The people of western Queensland are strong and resilient, but the horrific economic effects of the drought are hitting many of them hard, and some are struggling to cope with what are very difficult circumstances."

He said 40% of men living in rural communities who died by suicide had contact with a health professional prior to their death, and so places such as hospitals, primary healthcare services and specialist healthcare services were well placed to intervene with people at risk of suicide.

About $600,000 will go to community-based projects which would better support rural people struggling with the drought.
"There are many bush people who are proud people who do not want to admit that they are struggling and are loath to visit a health professional," Mr Dick said.

"But their neighbours and mates know.

"This is about getting those networks going so that we can reach those people who really need help."


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