What is the right approach to address mental health in drought affected areas?
Events, according to Sabina Knight who is the Director of the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health.
One mental health organisation in western Queensland has a dedicated Drought Relief Program Coordinator, whose job it is to create and support community events.
Suncare’s Ingrid Miller is based in Stonehenge, which is south west of Longreach.
She covers an extensive area from Birdsville to Richmond across to Alpha and down to Tambo.
Ms Miller says they’ve been making support available at community events, rather than holding mental health workshops.
She says events “are the hub for the year and the one opportunity for people to get together.
“The social interaction and coming together as a community is really beneficial for everyone involved.”
She says Suncare has been contributing funds to local events to take the pressure of local businesses, who are also feeling the pressure.
Ms Miller explains Suncare received funding through the Federal Government’s drought assistance package in February this year.
Her role started in May and she says the funding is due to end on December 31, 2014.
“We are hopeful that the funding will be extended.
“Obviously the drought isn’t going to end on the 31st of December.
“For most people it takes a few years to recover, hopefully that word feeds back up to higher levels.”
If funding is not renewed Ms Miller says “we are looking at some resources and information that we can leave in the community” to ensure there is a continued level of support.
This article first appeared on ABC Rural on 24 July 2014.