Reach­ing heart of mat­ter

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION -

Ivan Lis­ter’s per­son­able at­ti­tude and di­rect ap­proach has helped hun­dreds of peo­ple tackle their men­tal health is­sues.

Think­ing back over the years, he re­mem­bers get­ting a call from a bloke who asked him to visit his shear­ing shed for a chat.

‘‘He said, ‘You don’t know me, but I’ve heard of you’,’’ Mr Lis­ter said.

‘‘I got to the shed and I re­mem­ber look­ing out the shear­ing shed win­dow think­ing how hot it was.

‘‘We started talk­ing about the weather but I cut to the chase pretty quickly.’’

Mr Lis­ter said the man started shar­ing his be­lief that he was suf­fer­ing from un­di­ag­nosed anx­i­ety.

‘‘I asked if he’d been to a doc­tor re­cently and he said ‘yes’.

‘‘He said: ‘What I do is, when I get to a doc­tor I’m go­ing to tell them about my anx­i­ety — but I can’t and I tell them some­thing else like sore back, in­jury, mi­graine’.’’

Mr Lis­ter acted quickly and with per­mis­sion called a doc­tor and set up an ap­point­ment im­me­di­ately to re­ceive a for­malised di­ag­no­sis and med­i­ca­tion.

He said in­ter­ac­tions like this were not un­com­mon, in­clud­ing in­stances in which a per­son called up con­cerned about a part­ner but it was ac­tu­ally the caller who was suf­fer­ing from men­tal health con­cerns.

Miepoll beef and sheep farmer John Kelly first met Mr Lis­ter sev­eral years ago af­ter an in­ci­dent oc­curred on a farm where he was work­ing.

‘‘One day this fel­low who didn’t seem to be in a good head space took his life in front of us,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d never come across this sort of thing be­fore (men­tal health is­sues) and I didn’t know much about it.’’

Work­ing as an agri­cul­tural con­trac­tor, Mr Kelly has been able to re­fer a num­ber of peo­ple he is con­cerned about to Mr Lis­ter.

‘‘Over the years I’ve been in­volved in many cases with peo­ple in des­per­ate times,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve got to be ac­tive be­cause pray­ing isn’t go­ing to make it bet­ter.

‘‘We need to nip th­ese things in the bud early on. You can help peo­ple if you act quickly.’’

War­ren­bayne lamb and cat­tle farmer John Har­ri­son is an­other who has been helped by Mr Lis­ter, who vis­ited him at his prop­erty as he went through a di­vorce.

‘‘It’s a lonely life out there farm­ing and it can get you down,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re all vul­ner­a­ble.’’

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