An innovative use of older technology could help rural Kiwis struggling with mental health issues, says Stuart MacIntyre.
MacIntyre, who has worked in the tech industry for 18 years, told The Country's Jamie Mackay a service where users text a counsellor has been helpful for rural Australians. He hopes the technology will also assist New Zealanders.
Although he works in a non-agricultural industry, MacIntyre says he has an understanding of the challenges facing rural folk.
"I'm just aware that farming can be a pretty remote, lonely game."
MacIntyre worked for Singtel Optus in Australia and says the company ran a programme called "Optus Future Makers," which focused on social impact start-ups. One of last year's winners was a company started by Dervla Loughnane called Virtual Psychologist.
Loughnane's company had started to work with the rural community in Australia to help people dealing with the drought and found some interesting statistics around the success of using older technology to assist rural mental health says MacIntyre.
Current research shows that 60 per cent of the rural and remote community who have engaged in the text counselling service report that they would not have reached out for psychological help if the text service had not been available. In comparison, less than 50 per cent of those in the corporate sector were likely to use the text service.
MacIntyre says that research showed men felt more at ease using texting as a form of counselling, which he suggests could be because the service is less "challenging and confronting".
Loughnane is keen to bring the text counselling service to New Zealand and MacIntyre thinks it would benefit rural Kiwis.
"It's just a nice remote, confidential way for people to get a piece of advice quickly, and often from what I understand, that can be what makes the difference".
Where to get help:
Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.