A Willbriggie farmer will be part of a trial group aiming to help provide mental health support in the region through the use of members of the community.
The Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) has launched a trial program which provides 11 'Trusted Advocates' for the Narrandera area who will be able to help community members in need of mental health support, with Julie Andreazza named as one of the first 11 advocates.
Ms Andreazza said she got involved with the project off the back of her work with the network's Tell It Well program and John Harper's Mate Helping Mate program and was happy to help provide support during the tough times of the drought.
"You can always tell if a mate is not doing good," Ms Andreazza said.
"People don't realise what other people are going through... what is happening in our communities has never happened before."
Ms Andreazza said it was important to become involved with initiatives such as the Trusted Advocates program because sometimes it is easier to chat with a friendly face rather than seek out mental health services and while the program was based in Narrandera, she will also be aiming to provide support in the Griffith area.
MPHN CEO Melissa Neal said the program aims to increase the level of support available in communities during times of need.
"Our volunteer Trusted Advocates are already providing farmers and the broader community with informal mental health and well-being support, and this program helps formalise these relationships and roles," Ms Neal said.
"Integral to the program is providing suitable training support to our advocates to help them identify risk factors and promote help-seeking behaviours, but also supports for their own mental health and well-being."
The program forms part of the federal government's Empowering Our Communities program and was launched in part by Member for Farrer Sussan Ley, who said the program comes as a result of consultation undertaken as part of an initiative to help provide funding to support mental health and well-being in drought-affected areas.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this trial here in Narrandera and hopefully its success will mean the program is considered for expansion across the region," Ms Ley said.
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