Farmers under pressure
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.