$1.1 million for University-based mental health program
The University of Newcastle’s Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) has been awarded a further $1.1 million to continue to provide mental health assistance to people living in rural regions.
CRRMH was awarded $1.5 million over two years (2008-2009) for its Drought Mental Health Assistance Package (DMHAP). Due to the program’s success, NSW Department of Health has granted the Centre further funding to extend the program, now renamed the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP).
DMHAP, which provided support measures for drought-affected communities in NSW, involved the recruitment of mental health workers within rural Area Health Services who planned service networks, courses and resource booklets.
RAMHP will continue to address the short and long term mental health needs of the communities affected by drought, and will also provide assistance for other forms of rural crisis and climate-related adversity, including bushfires and floods.
Project advisor Professor Brian Kelly said the additional funds would support the continued development of health promotion, prevention and early intervention strategies.
“It is extremely rewarding for an academic health facility to work with groups like the NSW Farmers’ Association, and a range of welfare, community and service organisations, to address mental health needs in rural areas,” he said.
“The allocation of further funding to support our efforts is testament that we are making a real difference to people living in these communities.”
The Centre coordinated the NSW State-wide Drought Mental Health Assistance Package, working with more than 20 farming and community organisations and thousands of individuals across 60 towns.
In its first year it delivered 50 ‘Mental Health First Aid’ workshops, organised a significant number of meetings aimed to improve community understanding of mental health issues and encouraged distressed people to seek professional help.
Professor Kelly works in the University’s Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research, and in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s (HMRI) Brain and Mental Health Research Program.
For interviews: Professor Brian Kelly, Rural Adversity Mental Health Program advisor, 02 4033 5690