He Ara Oranga, the Government's mental health and addiction inquiry report was released last week. The 219-page report made about 40 recommendations and examined all aspects of mental health in New Zealand. The Otago Daily Times' Yvonne O'Hara reports.

Southland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Wright attended the inquiry panel's workshop in Invercargill earlier this year, while Rural Women New Zealand had members attending meetings throughout the country to make sure rural voices were heard.

Wright said he was ''cautiously excited'' and ''cautiously optimistic'' when he heard that better access to mental health services was one of the recommendations in the Government's mental health inquiry report.

''From the trust's point of view, to see that being addressed is positive,'' Wright said.

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''It is timely and overdue. The problem has been recognised.

''With the trust, we found it difficult when we had a client who needed help, but who couldn't get access to the help they needed.

''It can be so hard to get somebody to go to a doctor and to get referred to a service but then they have to wait three or four weeks for an appointment to get counselling.''

He hoped resources would be put in place to make access to services more timely, more people-centric and tailored to fit their needs and requirements.

''It will be interesting to see how they address it.''

In addition, an increased focus on prevention was also a positive outcome.

He said rural support trusts were ''rural people helping rural people''.

''It is peer-to-peer - people talking to people about stress and pressure and being able to talk about the issues before they became a problem.''

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Wright, is also a trustee for the Good Programmes Trust, which oversees the Good Yarn workshops.

He would like to see the Good Yarn workshops become an integral part of mental health services.

- Southern Rural Life