Farm­ers un­der pres­sure

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By ADEN MILES

On the heels of Fed­er­ated Farm­ers’ ru­ral men­tal health cam­paign When Life’s a Bitch, a South Waikato dairy farmer agreed that farmer well­ness is a con­cern.

Ge­orge Moss of Toko­roa, who is also a Ru­ral Sup­port Trust mem­ber, said the cam­paign high­lights an in­creas­ing men­tal health is­sue in the ru­ral farm­ing com­mu­nity.

‘‘ As a farmer ad­vo­cacy body [we’re] very con­cerned about farmer well­ness and it is an in­creas­ing is­sue in the ru­ral com­mu­nity.

‘‘There’s no ques­tion that farm­ers are in­creas­ingly un­der a range of pres­sures and chal­lenges. The na­ture of farm­ing has changed and it will al­ways change.’’

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers launched the cam­paign re­cently which features a push for bet­ter re­sources for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties’ men­tal health.

As part of the cam­paign, wal­let­size cards out­lin­ing in­for­ma­tion about men­tal ill­ness and where to go for help are be­ing de­liv­ered to the coun­try’s farm­ers.

The pres­sures farm­ers are faced with in­clude fi­nan­cial, re­la­tion­ship and cli­mac­tic is­sues in an age when tech­nol­ogy is con­stantly ad­vanc­ing.

‘‘It ex­ists as an en­tity: The fam­ily, the farm and the life­style,’’ Mr Moss said, ad­mit­ting that an af­fected area will cre­ate a rip­ple ef­fect.

‘‘Changes present many chal­lenges. I don’t think we – and this is for the en­tire com­mu­nity – have devel­oped the skillset to iden­tify when we’re un­der pres­sure and un­der stress and then have the con­fi­dence to ad­dress them.’’

He said that there are very few prob­lems that once iden­ti­fied can’t be solved.

Of­ten, farm­ers found it eas­ier to dis­cuss weather or grass growth rather than is­sues such as the loss of loved ones or ac­ci­den­tal road death.

‘‘ As a Ru­ral Sup­port Trust mem­ber, when we are called in the prob­lems have es­ca­lated to a point that we have to work really hard to get so­lu­tions.

‘‘The one thing that hap­pens,and this is for so­ci­ety, is that when a pres­sure comes on it’s not just one pres­sure, it’s a whole bas­ket of pres­sures and chal­lenges.’’

Mr Moss said any sit­u­a­tion can be worked through as long as a de­tailed plan is in place.

‘‘So of­ten as farm­ers, we are work­ing on our own and so we think we’re the only ones with those prob­lems, whereas in re­al­ity our pres­sures and chal­lenges are shared.’’

Mr Moss also en­cour­ages peo­ple to ask more di­rect ques­tions when speak­ing to fam­ily and friends.

‘‘It is an aw­ful amount of look­ing out for your mates as much as any­body . . .You have to sit down and try to as­cer­tain how they really are. Some­times you have to go where peo­ple wouldn’t be very com­fort­able.’’

If you would like to speak to Ru­ral Sup­port Trust you can con­tact 0800 787 254.

REACH­ING OUT: Toko­roa dairy farmer Ge­orge Moss says farm­ers are deal­ing with more pres­sures than ever be­fore.

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