Op­ti­mism, more work re­quired

The Timaru Herald - - HOMED -

From farm­ers in the fields to chil­dren in the class­room, pro­mot­ing men­tal well­be­ing has been a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue dur­ing this year’s Men­tal Health Aware­ness Week.

Teach­ers have de­scribed chil­dren weighed down by the pres­sures of so­ci­ety, while lead­ing farm­ers say they are only just be­gin­ning to un­der­stand the levers that af­fect their mem­ber’s men­tal well­be­ing.

Coun­sel­lors, both in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor, are re­port­ing their books are full with pa­tients, suf­fer­ing from work stress, the pres­sures of ex­pec­ta­tion and anx­i­ety.

Yet de­spite the re­ports of peo­ple bat­tling men­tal health is­sues, there is also cause for op­ti­mism. Newly elected Ran­gi­tata MP An­drew Fal­loon said in June the Govern­ment launched a new ‘‘Need to Talk?’’ free twenty four hour a day, seven days a week, four digit phone and text num­ber.

The new ser­vice was de­signed to ‘‘make it eas­ier for peo­ple to con­nect with men­tal health and addictions pro­fes­sion­als’’, Fal­loon said.

He said Ru­ral Men­tal Well­ness had also been given a $500,000 cash boost. The money would fund 20 work­shops ‘‘to im­prove the skills of ru­ral health pro­fes­sion­als treat­ing peo­ple at risk of sui­cide’’.

Ran­gi­tata based Labour MP Jo Lux­ton said ini­tia­tives like Men­tal Health Aware­ness Week helped to change the nar­ra­tive around men­tal health. ‘‘The more we high­light men­tal health then it be­comes part of our ev­ery­day con­ver­sa­tions, and peo­ple will be more com­fort­able to speak out and seek help.’’

Ti­maru coun­sel­lor and New Zealand As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­sel­lors re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chris­tine Macfar­lane said most coun­sel­lors in South Can­ter­bury were ‘‘very busy’’ deal­ing with pa­tients who were pre­sent­ing with a range of problems.

Macfar­lane said that was not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing, as it could also mean more peo­ple were be­com­ing ‘‘self-aware’’ of their men­tal well­be­ing.

The re­gion’s busi­ness com­mu­nity was also be­com­ing more aware of the happiness of their work­force, with some of the re­gion’s big­gest em­ploy­ers em­brac­ing a more al­len­com­pass­ing ap­proach to their em­ploy­ees wel­fare.

Fon­terra hu­man re­sources di­rec­tor, global op­er­a­tions, Rachael Re­gan-Pat­ter­son said the Clan­de­boye plant near Te­muka was us­ing tools to sup­port em­ploy­ees who had ex­pe­ri­enced men­tal trauma.

In light of the pos­i­tive steps be­ing taken and op­ti­mism around men­tal health, some peo­ple are cau­tion­ing that more money and tools are needed to prop­erly turn things around.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers South Can­ter­bury pres­i­dent Mark Adams said the sec­tor was only just start­ing to un­der­stand is­sues among those work­ing in it.

Adams was call­ing for more re­sources for the coun­try’s Ru­ral Sup­port Trusts, which are present hav­ing al­most all of their fund­ing swal­lowed up in help­ing those peo­ple af­fected, he said.

- Ben Au­lakh and Rachael Comer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.