Well­be­ing ini­tia­tives for ru­ral New Zealand

Ev­ery 15 hours some­one in New Zealand takes their own life.

The Orchardist - - Health And Wellbeing - Michelle Thomp­son

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

Ge­orge McHardy, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Grochem – a lead­ing plant growth reg­u­la­tor, nu­tri­tion, fungi­cide and in­sec­ti­cide sup­plier in New Zealand and Aus­tralia, 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 they have ac­cess to sup­port and rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“Men­tal well­be­ing isn’t one of the first things that come to mind when we think about ad­vo­cacy for grow­ers, but 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 Mr McHardy heard Michelle Thomp­son present at a ru­ral sec­tor con­fer­ence and saw an op­por­tu­nity to make an im­pact.

Ms Thomp­son is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Ru­ral Health

- Al­liance Aotearoa New Zealand (RH ANZ), an or­gan­i­sa­tion that ad­vo­cates for, and on be­half of, 49 mem­ber or­gan­i­sa­tions to pro­vide so­lu­tions and in­flu­ence pol­icy that af­fects the health and well­be­ing of ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr McHardy said Ms Thomp­son’s pre­sen­ta­tion was cov­er­ing

- RHANZ’s five key ini­tia­tives of their Ru­ral Health Road Map, and one par­tic­u­lar as­pect caught his at­ten­tion – ru­ral well­be­ing.

- “RHANZ 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.

“And it’s im­por­tant for businesses like us to give back into our com­mu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially those that di­rectly im­pact the suc­cess of our busi­ness. By sup­port­ing them, they sup­port us.”

Ms Thomp­son said Grochem re­ally walked the talk by ex­plor­ing how they could be in­volved, and is thrilled to have

- them on as the lat­est Strate­gic Sup­porter of RH ANZ.

“We were most ex­cited about hav­ing Grochem com­ing on­board as there is a lot of op­por­tu­nity 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.

“Grochem’s fund­ing sup­port will be used over the next 12 months to progress the pri­or­i­ties of our Ru­ral Health Road Map, with a spe­cial focus on our ru­ral men­tal health ini­tia­tives.”

- The Ru­ral Health Road Map is RH ANZ’s plan for sup­port­ing and grow­ing healthy ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in New Zealand. The road map fo­cuses on achiev­ing five goals.

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 RHANZ 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 RHANZ visit www.rhaanz.org.nz

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