Farmers struggling with drought will no longer have to trek to town for counselling appointments under new measures to make seeking mental health support easier.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the change on Sunday, along with $11.4 million in funding for other initiatives supporting the mental wellbeing of farming families and their communities.

Instead of three out of 10 Medicare-supported psychological consultations needing to be in person, rural people can now access all of them over the phone or through Skype under the changes.

Mr Turnbull said the government recognises the dry conditions have been taking a mental toll on farming communities.

“These are bleak times and a lot of people find it very hard to cope,” he told reporters at a farm at Trangie in central NSW on Sunday.

He said changing the way people can access support is important as the need to travel to in-person appointments has meant some people have been dropping out of counselling early.

– Marnie Banger

Read more: Struggling Farmers Get ‘Home Visit’ Mental Health Boost

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