Text help for farm­ers

Isis Town and Country - - News -

IN ANOTHER first for Queens­land in­no­va­tion, a lo­cal busi­ness is break­ing new ground by of­fer­ing men­tal health ser­vices via SMS to strug­gling farm­ers in con­junc­tion with the char­ity, Aussie Helpers.

Vir­tual Psy­chol­o­gist, the men­tal health arm of Aussie Helpers, is a cut­ting-edge coun­selling pro­gram that de­liv­ers vi­tal men­tal health sup­port via phone, email, on­line chat, SMS and so­cial me­dia to farm­ers and gra­ziers af­fected by drought, iso­la­tion and fi­nan­cial pres­sure.

“What we are of­fer­ing is a first for Aus­tralia,” said Vir­tual Psy­chol­o­gist CEO and founder, Dervla Lough­nane. “Other na­tion­wide coun­selling ser­vices have iden­ti­fied the need for a di­rect mes­sage sup­port pro­gram like this but we are the first to of­fer it.”

Aussie Helpers founder and Se­nior Aus­tralian of the Year (2008), Brian Egan, pledged to bring psy­cho­log­i­cal ser­vices to farm­ers do­ing it tough af­ter a man, who had lost ev­ery­thing, took his own life.

“Our busi­ness has been en­gaged by Aussie Helpers to help Brian ful­fil his vow to of­fer psy­cho­log­i­cal ser­vices to peo­ple in the bush,” said Ms Lough­nane.

“Farm­ers are proud, they don’t like to ask for help, it is dif­fi­cult for them to talk about any is­sues. The huge dis­tances be­tween farms make it dif­fi­cult for them to ac­cess ser­vices or for ser­vices to come to them.”

“With dig­i­tal me­dia, peo­ple in need can con­nect with our clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists and men­tal health ser­vices rel­a­tively eas­ily. We can reach a much greater au­di­ence and it of­fers us a lot of flex­i­bil­ity so we can de­liver our ser­vices in a way and at a time that suits the gra­ziers.

“Aussie Helpers are al­ready do­ing an amaz­ing job to help boost peo­ple’s spir­its with their do­na­tions of fod­der for an­i­mals and food ham­pers for fam­i­lies. Now they are also able to pro­vide psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port and men­tal health ed­u­ca­tion in re­mote and ru­ral ar­eas,” she said.

Vir­tual Psy­chol­o­gist, funded by Lions Aus­tralia, of­fers a 24-hour psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­selling ser­vice to drought-af­fected and strug­gling farm­ers via SMS, Chat, email and phone. Face-to-face ser­vices are also of­fered and ser­vices are linked to lo­cal com­mu­nity-based or­gan­i­sa­tions where pos­si­ble. The or­gan­i­sa­tion is based on the Gold Coast.

Aussie Helpers is a reg­is­tered char­ity run by vol­un­teers to de­liver drought re­lief to fam­i­lies in the bush. It is the only group of­fer­ing this kind of sup­port.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.