Strategic support focuses on wellbeing initiatives for rural New Zealand

Strategic support focuses on wellbeing initiatives for rural New Zealand

Did you know that every 15 hours someone in New Zealand takes their own life?

It’s a sobering fact, and one that we can all agree needs drastic attention.

Research shows that those living in rural communities can be at a heightened risk of developing or suffering from depression. This is due to a number of factors including isolation, their place in the community, the feeling of having choices, and being able to access quality treatment and support when it’s needed.

When those things disappear, so too can the desire to keep living.

It’s not a small group we’re talking about either – New Zealand’s rural population consists of around 600,000 people, a population that together would be New Zealand’s second largest city behind Auckland.

However, the population doesn’t get the same level of access to mental health services as New Zealand’s big cities. In fact, of the $24 million spent on primary mental health services by the New Zealand Government, only $500,000 has been specifically allotted to rural mental health initiatives.

Our Managing Director George McHardy says rural New Zealanders need more support and wants growers and workers in the horticulture sector to be well represented.

“Although growers make up a small population in relation to the rest of New Zealand’s rural community, it’s important that growers are given similar support and representation as our larger livestock farming brothers.

“But, mental wellbeing isn’t usually one of the first things that come to mind when we think about advocacy for growers. However, with the current devastating rate of suicide in this country, it’s important that we shed some light on this and ensure growers are getting good information and support.”

That’s when George heard Michelle Thompson present at a rural sector conference and saw an opportunity to make an impact.

Michelle is the chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHĀNZ), an organisation that advocates for, and on behalf of, 49 member organisations to provide solutions and influence policy that affects the health and well-being of rural communities.

Her presentation was covering RHĀNZ’s five key initiatives of their Rural Health Road Map, and one particular aspect caught George’s attention – rural well-being.

“RHĀNZ is calling for the Government to implement its mental health and addictions framework for rural New Zealanders. It really resonated with me and I knew it was important for Grochem to get behind it.

George also said it is important for businesses like Grochem to give back to our communities, especially those that directly impact the success of our business. By supporting them, they support us.

Michelle from RHĀNZ said we really walked the talk by exploring how we could be involved and is thrilled to have us on as the latest Strategic Supporter of RHĀNZ.

“We were most excited about having Grochem coming onboard as there is a lot of opportunities for us to impact the horticulture sector in a really positive way. Having a supplier in the industry join us is how we can make a difference in more of New Zealand’s rural pockets.”

Our funding support will be used over the next 12 months to progress the priorities of the RHĀNZ Rural Health Road Map, with a special focus on their rural mental health initiatives.

The Rural Health Road Map is RHĀNZ’s plan for supporting and growing healthy rural communities in New Zealand. The roadmap focuses on achieving five goals.

RHĀNZ’s Five Rural Health Road Map Goals

Rural wellbeing

The objective is to ensure rural people are connected to their communities and know how to take care of themselves and each other.

The key initiative here is to have resourcing for the implementation of the RHĀNZ-led framework which will improve mental health outcomes for rural New Zealanders.

RHĀNZ is also calling for the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Ministry of Health to continue their funding boost to support rural mental health initiatives, and to also undertake research on rural youth at risk.

Rural health services

The goal is for rural communities to have excellent access to health care services closer to home and timely access to specialist and emergency services when required.

Rural health workforce

RHĀNZ want rural health and social service professionals to be well resourced and supported to provide the highest quality of service for people in their care.

Rural research and policy

This is about having a strong evidence base from which to work so that we can help inform community development, resource allocation; health service provision; targeted interventions and outcomes measures. These are all critical for understanding whether rural health outcomes are poorer than urban outcomes and if there is a gap then where best to channel our scarce resources.

Rural connectivity

The goal is for rural communities to have excellent access to reliable, high quality & affordable broadband and mobile connectivity. Achieving this goal is a key enabler of the other four goals as it underpins rural liveability.

Show your support

Rural New Zealand is vital to the whole country. In order to keep New Zealand healthy, we need our rural community to be healthy. You can show your support and help RHĀNZ to advocate so that rural New Zealand, and our growers, are not overlooked at the national level during strategic planning for health service options and social services provision.

To learn more about what RHĀNZ visit www.rhaanz.org.nz

More information

Early warning signs that you, or someone you know, is in trouble:
– Poor sleep – too much or too little
– Moodiness or aggression – short-tempered when usually not
– Increased smoking and increased use of alcohol and drugs
– Poor appetite – lost interest in food
– Withdrawing from friends, becoming socially isolated
– Neglect and poor treatment of animals

What to do?
– Talk to someone you know
– Connect socially
– Call or text “1737” to talk to a mental health professional
– Call your local Rural Support Trust
– Find the nearest ‘Good Yarn’ – farmer wellness workshops
– Visit www.depression.org.nz for a wealth of information
– If it’s an emergency and you feel like you or someone is at risk, Call 111 and ask for Police.

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