14 Mar 2014

Rural depression still big challenge for alliance

1:46 pm on 14 March 2014

Battling suicide and depression in farming communities remains a priority for the Rural Health Alliance.

The alliance, an umbrella lobby organisation with more than 20 member groups representing rural health providers, local bodies and others held its second conference in Wellington this week.

Chair Jo Scott-Jones of the Rural GP Network says dealing with mental health issues is still a major concern.

There's still a high suicide rate in rural communities, he says, but a lot of work has been done on the issues over the past couple of years, including upskilling people in the communities "to provide the services where people are".

Dr Scott-Jones says broadband will also play a part in improving access to health services, but even when the Government's broadband program is fully rolled out by 2020, rural communities will still be the poor cousins to their urban counterparts.

While urban areas will have internet speeds of 100 megabytes per second, she says, most rural areas will have to cope with no more than 20.