Day by day aware­ness of men­tal health is­sues

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

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.gipp­s­land­jer­

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.

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