R U OK? City lacks support - mateship in focus

A NSW Farmers board member says Griffith doesn't have enough mental health professionals, making mateship more important than ever.

R U OK?: NSW Farmers Griffith branch president Helen Dalton and NSW Ambulance senior chaplain Paul McFarlane in from of the yellow R U OK bus at Memorial Park.

R U OK?: NSW Farmers Griffith branch president Helen Dalton and NSW Ambulance senior chaplain Paul McFarlane in from of the yellow R U OK bus at Memorial Park.

NSW Farmers executive councillor and Griffith branch president, Helen Dalton, was on hand to welcome the R U OK? national conversation tour bus, which stopped by Griffith on Wednesday.

Members of the not-for-profit suicide prevention organisation are driving from Darwin to Sydney in a bid to inspire mates to ask about each other's mental state more often.

Mrs Dalton, who runs a mixed irrigation and dryland farm and has been a vocal critic of the state government's water policy, said there wasn't a single resident of Griffith who hadn't been impacted by mental health issues.

"Rural areas don't have the professional support we need to combat mental health problems and I hear all the time people getting turned away because there aren't enough specialist doctors," Mrs Dalton said. "Mental health issues are all around us and in the past we've tried to cover it up, but we know now that doesn't work we need to look out for our mates.

"The conversation is really important, especially among farmers who run high-risk businesses and now have to deal with the effects of this latest frost."

NSW Ambulance chief chaplain, Paul McFarlane, was also on hand to discuss the alarming rate of suicide in Australia.

"Two-hundred people attempt suicide every day in Australia and every day six Australians commit suicide, which is a tragedy and is also very hard for ambulance staff to be with people in those crisis moments," Mr McFarlane said. "R U OK? spreads the message that we need to be more connected with each other, as too often people feel like they're on their own and so we need to spread the message that we must look after each other."

R U OK? For help or information visit www.beyondblue.org.au or call Lifeline on 131 114.

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