Reaching heart of matter
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.’’