The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is reminding regional Australians to look after one another as part of 2017’s World Mental Health Day.
NFF President Fiona Simson said farmers and those working in the industries that support them, often spend long periods alone and regularly contend with situations of high pressure.
“Whether you are a farming family sweating on much-needed rainfall or a livestock transporter driving for large distances with tight timeframes, many rural-based jobs are difficult.
“Farming communities are often at the mercy of circumstances beyond their control such as seasonal variability and fluctuating market prices. Physical and social isolation can also be trying.
“If we’re not careful these challenges can take a toll on our mental health and general wellbeing,” Ms Simson said.
Ms Simson said it was important for regionally-based people to be aware of how their family, friends and community members were faring.
“By just being aware, we can form an invaluable, always-present support group that is ready to mobilise when someone we know appears to be struggling.
“Through such a support group, intervention maybe be achieved before a person’s circumstances result in serious or even, tragic consequences.”
Ms Simson said despite the pressures of rural life, farmers statistically, do not suffer increased levels of physiological stress when compared with their non-farming counterparts.
“However, they are less inclined to seek clinical help and perceive there to be a ‘stigma’ associated with mental illness – which is concerning.”
A key objective of World Mental Health Day is to encourage everyone to look at mental health in a more positive light, reduce stigma and make way for more people to seek the help and support they deserve.
“Because of the identified reluctance to seek clinical help and a recognised gap in regional mental health clinical services, it is crucial we as farmers and regional communities look out for each other.”
“On 2017’s World Mental Health Day, I promise to be aware of the mental wellbeing of my family, friends and community members and to reach out if someone I know is struggling,” Ms Simson said.