Addressing rural stress

Southern Primary Health Organisation health promotion and projects co-ordinator Katie Jahnke. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Southern Primary Health Organisation health promotion and projects co-ordinator Katie Jahnke. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Someone in a rural area commits suicide every two weeks.

The statistic is behind an initiative to help rural communities be more aware of how to handle stress and mental health issues.

''It's extremely concerning, as 40% of our enrolled population lives outside Dunedin or Invercargill,'' Southern Primary Health Organisation health promotion and projects co-ordinator Katie Jahnke said.

''Rural Life: Keeping the Balance'' had been developed to help address some of the disparities and mental health statistics around rural communities, she said.

A pilot of the workshop will be held in Mosgiel on Thursday, July 3.

It aimed to help people identify the early signs and symptoms of depression, how to talk to people about those issues and access help.

Feedback from the first pilot in Gore last month was positive, she said.

Many things that were outside farmers' control, such as the weather, the New Zealand dollar and dairy prices, which added to the strain of daily life, she said.

They also often worked by themselves or worked antisocial hours.

Once the workshop programme was finalised it was hoped to to take it to various rural Otago and Southland communities.

It had also been developed so it could be be added to other groups' meetings.

''It means they only have to go out once and it reduces the stigma of going to such a workshop.''

The workshop will be led by former farmer and Southland Rural Support Trust member Lindsay Wright.

• For information email katie.jahnke@southernpho.health.nz.

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