Rural Women New Zealand has welcomed the government's decision to spend more on mental health programmes for young New Zealanders, but is concerned that rural communities will continue to suffer.

The government plans to target the 18 to 25-year-old age group, with $10.49 million pledged to allow free counselling.

"While the announcement does go some way to meeting the ongoing problems of access to mental health services, it does little to address the well-recognised high levels of depression and suicide in our rural and farming communities over all age groups," RWNZ board member and health convenor Margaret Pittaway said.

"Access to mental health services for many living in rural areas means a long drive to a centralised service to receive treatment, and too often rural families suffer an unacceptably long wait for a mental health appointment after the initial referral.


"RWNZ is aware that a nationwide task force has recently completed a nationwide survey to assess the mental health and addiction needs of all members of the New Zealand society. We hope that as the results of this recent work are collated and better understood, more consideration will be given to the wider rural population and to farmers in particular."