News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Farmers need to know it’s okay to ask for help

20 May 2014

Farmers need to know it’s okay to ask for help

Dairy farmers need to know they can ask for help to deal with stress and depression, says Lisa, a Waikato sharemilker.

Lisa’s husband Hamish did an interview with mental health advocate Sir John Kirwan that featured in a recent campaign by the Government’s Health Promotion Agency. Hamish talks about his experience of not coping with the stresses of farming and shutting himself off from his family. He explains he got too tied up with the farm and did not maintain a sense of perspective by getting away from it.

Lisa made the call for help: “He was in a slump and it wasn’t getting better.”

She said mental distress still tends to be a “taboo subject” among farmers.

“When we were asking for help, we got doors slammed in our faces.”

She said they’ve gone public about their experience because they want to help others who are in the same situation.

Lisa wants to see work done on two fronts: farming communities need a better understanding of mental wellbeing and there needs to be more help available from specialists who can relate well to farmers.

The sharing of farmers’ stories is part of a Farmer Mental Wellness Strategy and Action Plan that has been developed by a group of rural farming and health agencies.

The group is currently chaired by Dairy Women’s Network project manager for dairy farmer wellbeing, Lynda Clark, who said combining the strengths of all the organisations achieves more for farmers and their families.

“The joint aim is to make it easier for farmers to talk about and adopt behaviours that increase mental wellbeing and reduce anxiety, depression and suicide.

“Each of us has our own programmes and funding streams, and co-ordination between us ensures these are well-designed and more effective. Group members are keeping each other informed and taking opportunities to work together where possible, rather than working in silos.”

DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries support the group through a jointly funded project that aims to improve dairy farmer wellbeing, which is part of the Transforming the Dairy Value Chain Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme.

Clark said now that the Strategy is in place activities for farmers are gaining momentum.

In the past year a series of 12 free Mental Health101 workshops have been delivered around the country to dairy farmers and rural professionals. These workshops are funded through a partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Dairy PGP programme, and more will be held this year.

“These are educating people about the signs to look out for if someone is becoming mentally distressed, and what they can do and where to go for help,” said Clark.

At the Dairy Women’s Network’s recent annual conference a similar workshop called Managing Moods and Mates was attended by 113 dairy farming women.

Also, farmers can go through an emotional wellness screening as part of Health PitStops that have been offered at dairying events across the country for the past three years. Like the Farmer Mental Wellness Strategy work, the Health PitStops are funded by the Dairy PGP programme.

“At the PitStops, dairy farmers – both men and women - can get a free physical health check and emotional wellness screening.”

The physical health checks are managed by the New Zealand Rural Health Institute, and AgResearch leads the emotional wellness screening.

The National Depression Initiative (NDI), fronted by Sir John, has recently put the focus on farmers’ experiences, and Hamish’s story is one of several that have recently been added to the depression.org website. This website presents The Journal, a free, online self-help programme designed to support people with mild to moderate depression.

Also, the Mental Health Foundation is providing advice and assistance to the Farmer Mental Wellness Strategy group. Via their partnership with the Movember Foundation, which promotes men’s health, they will develop tools and resources that educate and encourage healthy behaviours which will be promoted by organisations and individual champions from the rural sector.

About the Farmer Mental Wellness Strategy and Action Plan

The group developing the plan includes:

Farmer Networks: Rural Women NZ, Rural Support Trusts, DairyNZ, Dairy Women’s Network, AgResearch, Federated Farmers and Young Farmers NZ.

Health Networks: Mental Health Foundation, Health Promotion Agency, Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa, New Zealand Rural Health General Practice Network.

Other contributors: Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment,), Ministry for Primary Industries (through the Primary Growth Partnership and Rural Support Trusts), Beef + Lamb NZ, FarmSafe, Farmers Mutual Group and NZ Veterinary Association.

The Farmer Mental Wellness Strategy and Action Plan has five action areas:
• Knowledge and skills about healthy attitudes and behaviours
• Reducing the stigma so farmers feel comfortable to seek and receive help
• Local, regional and national commitment for action and solutions
• Research and evaluation to identify knowledge gaps and find solutions
• Self-awareness and connected communities.

About the rural webpage at depression.org
The new rural page at www.depression.org.nz/rural went live on April 7, as part of the Health Promotion Agency’s National Depression Initiative Rural project. The rural page has been created to make the website more relevant to the rural community by including videos and written stories from farmers who speak about their journey through depression.

About the Transforming the Dairy Chain Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme
DairyNZ and Fonterra are leading a seven-year, $170 million innovation programme called Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. This is jointly funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries as a Primary Growth Partnership. DairyNZ is investing in farm innovation and productivity, including the work described above, and Fonterra is leading work post farm-gate to diversify dairy products and manufacturing processes. Co-investors in this programme are Synlait, Landcorp Farming, Livestock Improvement Corporation, New Zealand Young Farmers and Agricultural Services Ltd.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Cyclists Net First NZ Gold

New Zealand won a gold meal and two bronzes on the first day of the Commonwealth Games. There was joy and heartbreak in an incredibly full day of sport. Here's how the New Zealanders fared. More>>

Cap Bocage: Anti-Mining Campaign Doco Debuts At NZ Film Festival

Playing at this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival, Cap Bocage is a close-up exploration of the forces that came into play when environmental issues and indigenous rights became intertwined in New Caledonia ... More>>

Film Fest:

More Film:

Sharon Ellis Review: A View From The Bridge

Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge is Circa’s latest big production, it opened on Saturday 19 July and it is a stunning triumph. More>>

Māori Language Week: He Karanga Kia Kaha Ake Te Tīhau Ki Te Reo Māori

The Māori Language Commission wishes to see social media swamped with Māori language tweets and messages for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori using the hashtag #tekupu. More>>

ALSO:

Book Vote: Kiwis Prefer Young Adult & Classics

To compile their Top 100 List for 2014, Whitcoulls again asked New Zealanders to vote for their favourite books and authors. And while classic novels continue to appeal to Kiwi readers, 2014 marks a significant new trend – the increasing popularity of novels for young adults. More>>

ALSO:

Five NZ Cities: Bill Bailey Back To The Southern Hemisphere

The gap between how we imagine our lives to be and how they really are is the subject of Bill’s new show Limboland. With his trademark intelligence and sharp wit, he tells tales of finding himself in this halfway place. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Book Television Is Coming

Carole Beu of The Women’s Bookshop in Auckland, Graham Beattie of The Book Blog and producer Deb Faith of FaceTV have raised enough money via crowd funding at Boosted – just under $7,000 so far – for 12 episodes, which begin production in September, and will be on screen later that month. More>>

Electric Sheep: Light Nelson Exceeds All Expectations

Light Nelson exceeded all expectations drawing over 40,000 people over two nights to the Queens Gardens and surrounds. The event, with over 40 installations from local and national artists, is in its second year, and organisers were hoping they’d top last year’s crowd of 16,000. More>>

MacGyver: Richard Dean Anderson To Attend Armageddon This October

New Zealand’s biggest pulp-culture event, the Armageddon Expo is proud to announce the world’s most recognised DIY action hero will be attending the Auckland event at the ASB Showgrounds from October 24th to 27th. More>>

ALSO:

Barbershop Gold: Māori Party Singing Praises Of The Musical Island Boys

The Maori Party has congratulated four young men on a mission, who in 2002 took up barbershop singing at Tawa College, and tonight took out the Gold Medal in the 2014 International Barbershop Harmony Society competitions in Las Vegas. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news