Day by day awareness of mental health issues
Twelve brave farmers have stepped outside their comfort zones to share their personal stories for a calendar that aims to break down the stigma of mental health in rural communities.
The financial year calendar, an initiative of Gippsland Jersey, was launched at Farm World on Thursday.
The free calendar will be distributed to 1400 dairy farmers across Gippsland.
For Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, the calendar was part of her own journey since the suicide of her dairy farming father two years ago.
In line with one of Gippsland Jersey’s “brand pillars” the calendar was an initiative to make rural people, men and women, comfortable about telling their story.
She said the calendar was designed to share the stories of men and women in the dairy industry who have suffered and felt alone because of mental health.
The calendar features the stories of six West Gippsland farmers including Joe Meggetto of Warragul; Adam Nelson of Drouin South; Ian Cougle of Willow Grove; Rose Atherton of Longwarry; Matt Wilson of Poowong; and Michaela Whiting of Longwarry.
“Our wish is that this calendar prompts honest and real conversations about a health issue that often we feel ashamed or embarrassed about.
“I believe if there was less stigma and if farmers know where to go, it may save some people.
“Obviously it is very hard for them to make that first call.
Ms Jones said there were some really strong themes in the personal stories and that was the trigger points are the same – financial and relationship worries.
“The role of the partner of a farmer is really important. If they aren’t on board it’s very difficult for that farmer and that’s when they feel so alone.
“The themes are the same for men particularly who work until they break and they isolate themselves, they often don’t have friendship groups they talk to.
“If this calendar can save one life we’ve achieved something,” she said.
The calendar will be distributed to 1400 dairy farmers via milk tanker drops over the next few weeks. The calendar also is available at www.gippslandjersey.com.au
Ms Jones said the project was supported by the Suicide Prevention Placed Based Trial Project, operating in the Latrobe Valley and Bass Coast areas, with funding provided by the federal government through the Gippsland Primary Health Network and the state government’s Health and Human Services Department.
Many of the farmers in the calendar did not know where to seek help. The calendar directs anyone need assistance to a number of support organisations including:
Lifeline 131 114; Men’s Line 1300 789978; Beyond Blue 1300 224636; Suicide call back service 1300 659467; and Family violence 1800 737732.
Over coming weeks, The Gazette will share the stories of farmers in our area who feature in the calendar.