Rural group disappointed at mental health inquiry

A rural support group is underwhelmed with the Government's inquiry into mental health and addiction, saying not enough is being done to support the sector.

The Government released the inquiry report in full on Tuesday.

It found that the annual cost of serious mental illness, including addiction, is an estimated $12 billion. 

The group Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is disappointed that there are no recommendations to support rural communities.

"New Zealand’s rural communities are suffering more than most from the lack of access to mental health and addiction services, which the report does not address," said National President, Fiona Gower.

"RWNZ lodged a submission to the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry and while some of our concerns are noted in the body of the report, there are no recommendations that will alleviate our concerns," she said.

The group believes suggestions that technology could help, aren't practical.

"The use of tele-health services could help solve isolation by distance if there was access to adequate and affordable connectivity - unfortunately this is not the case in much of rural New Zealand."

"A far better solution is to train those living and working in rural communities to identify and support those suffering, as well as education and support programmes to lower the incidence of mental illness, suicides and family violence."

RWNZ also wants to see a rural impact assessment carried out on all the recommendations before they’re implemented.