Mental Health Awareness Week (26 September – 2 October) provides an opportunity to talk about one of the biggest concerns of rural New Zealand and highlight the support available.
The timing of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) is particularly important for farmers and rural communities as workloads increase throughout spring and summer.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Lead Extension Manager Mark Harris says MHAW is a good reminder to check in with a friend or family member.
“It’s a bit cheesy, but I truly believe that a problem shared is a problem halved,” says Harris.
“It’s amazing how connecting with others can lift your spirit and lift theirs, too. If you don’t have someone to talk to, there’s professionals who are happy to listen.”
“The next six months are busy for farmers, so it’s a good time to plan a break off-farm. It’s easy to get caught up in work – especially if it’s busy – but if you plan a day or weekend off now, then at least the ball is rolling and you will find a way to make it happen during this period,” he says.
Harris lost his brother to suicide two years ago and is a big advocate for sharing his experience with others.
“It’s important to have an open and honest conversation about the alarming suicide rates within New Zealand, and especially within rural communities.”
“You would be surprised at how many people I talk to that have also lost someone close to them due to suicide and it’s not getting talked about enough.”
“I urge you to pick up the phone and call a mate – it could be a lifesaving phone call.”
Beef + Lamb New Zealand resources
B+LNZ have a range of resources dedicated to improve your wellbeing.
The FarmSalus tool was developed as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme and is aimed at helping understand and monitor the human component of farming. Learn more about FarmSalus.
- Enhance your work style webinars: A three-part webinar series to help you look after your greatest farm asset – your body, by keeping you moving well and living well for a better lifestyle.
- AgInnovation Conference 2021: What’s your vision for resilient hill country futures?
- AgInnovation 2021: Creating solutions for farmers in a changing world – Sarah Adams
- Building Resilience Through Catchment Community Groups
- B+LNZ Planning for Disruption Webinar - Part one, Part two, Part three
Scene + Herd Podcasts
- Gaining resilience in the result of tragedy: Louise Robson
- Engaging in environmental policy vital for sector resilience
- Thinking outside the box: Jack Cocks & Joanne Stevenson on Resilience in the farming business
- Breakfeed: Resilience in farming, with Andy Fox, sheep and beef farmer
- Breakfeed: Fraser Avery, Moving while the rest are still sleeping
- Planning for Disruption, with Rob Macnab
Training with Primary ITO
Primary ITO’s Level 3 work-based programme includes the micro-credential ‘Managing Personal Wellbeing in the Primary Sector’. New learners work through this with their employer, in the first two months of the programme. This aids conversations about the employees eating, sleep and general health and wellbeing needs which is good to understand early on with your new staff member. For further information, visit the PrimaryITO website.
B+LNZ provides funding support for Primary ITO.
Organisations that can help
- Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
- Lifeline 0800 543 354 or 09 522 2999 or free text 4357 (HELP)
- Suicide Prevention Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOK0)
- Youthline 0800 376 633 or free text 234
- Samaritans 0800 726 666
Rural Support Trust
The Rural Support Trust have local, rural people who know from experience that pressures can mount up. Their networks and training can help with all kinds of situations, and help you get through your current challenges.
Farmstrong is a nationwide wellbeing programme for the rural community aiming to help farmers live well to farm well.
They have a range of tools and advice to support your overall wellbeing.
Visit the FarmStrong website to learn more and access resources.
Will To Live
Will To Live's mission is to educate, support and inspire peoples health and happiness that creates a ripple effect through the rural communities of New Zealand.
Will To Live’s RuralChange initiative is a funded private wellbeing program for New Zealand farmers operated by the Will To Live Charitable Trust.
Each farmer will have the opportunity to enhance and improve their health, happiness and wellbeing by accessing three funded private counselling/psychologist sessions.
We encourage everyone that would like to up-skill and improve their health and wellbeing to make use of the RuralChange funding that is available to you.
More information about MHAW
Running between 26 September and 2 October this year, Mental Health Awareness Week is run by the Mental Health Foundation since 1993.
This year's theme is Reconnect – with the people and places that lift you up, hei pikinga waiora.
The past couple of years have been tough and it's easy to feel disconnected from the people and places that are important to us.