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

 

Eddie Izzard: UK Comedy Legend Returns

Hailed as one of the foremost stand up comedians of his generation. Star of stage and screen. Tireless supporter of charity. Runner. Political campaigner. Fashion Icon... February 2015, Eddie Izzard will bring his massive FORCE MAJEURE world tour to New Zealand with tickets going on sale at 10am on Tuesday 28th October. More>>

Festival Starts 28 Oct: Improv Fest Makes Up New Show

For any other festival, finding out less than two weeks from showtime that half the cast of a programmed show can’t make it to New Zealand would be a nightmare. Instead, the New Zealand Improv Festival Director Jennifer O’Sullivan saw an opportunity ... More>>

NZ Music Awards Finalists: Lorde, Sol3 Mio Top 2014 Tuis Charge

Lorde has taken the music world by storm during the past year and she co-leads the 2014 Tui charge with five finalist spots. Joining her is newcomer family opera trio, Sol3 Mio. They are followed closely by Ladi6 and David Dallas, both up for four awards each. More>>

From 'Luther' Creator: Major New Zealand Crime Series For BBC

Libertine Pictures and writer Neil Cross have teamed up with leading international TV producer Carnival Films to develop a major new crime series set in Rotorua. Libertine will develop the contemporary drama series with Carnival, producer of internationally-acclaimed British period drama Downton Abbey, for the BBC. More>>

ALSO:

Family Statement: Death Of Ewen Gilmour

“Ewen was a much loved and cherished member of our family, he was a larger than life character and by his very nature was kind, generous and always giving of his time to those who asked for his help." More>>

ALSO:

Auckland: St. Jerome's Laneway Festival - Line-Up Announced

Traversing seven cities and three countries, the festival has well and truly settled into its home in each state. From the grassy knolls and towering silos at home in Auckland, to the sparkling backdrop of the Maribyrnong... More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: No Longer An Island

Simon Nathan reviews 'Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed': The idea that New Zealand is part of a large submerged continent is not new... There was renewed interest in the extent of offshore New Zealand from the 1970s onwards with the start of offshore drilling for oil and gas, and this was given impetus by a UN agreement which allowed countries to claim an Extended Continental Shelf (ECS). More>>

Art: Simon Denny Recreates Kim Dotcom’s Personal Effects

Who owns what? How has the internet changed our relation to the world? These are two of the many questions Simon Denny raises in the latest exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery, opening on Saturday 4 October. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news