Farmers are one of the most at-risk groups for suicide in Australia. Gaining and building trust, and talking openly about challenges, is the key to protecting their mental health.
New research from the University of South Australia assessed the difference between farming and non-farming adults to examine what stops them from using mental health services.
“What we really wanted to pin down with the study was, do farmers have a really dif- ferent set of values and circumstances that might put up barriers to getting help when they need it. Evidence suggests rural Australians prefer to seek non-professional support to manage health concerns, and they have a real desire to be independent and maintain pride, all of which may delay or even stop them from seeking mental healthcare or support,” said Melissa Hull. Farming can be a very physically and psychologically demanding occupation, often in difficult and isolated environments.
Communication often becomes a bar- rier in rural Australia where there is a ste- reotype of self-reliance and stoicism. There is also a preference for seeking help from family and friends rather than profession- als. The research recommends that those support people seek professional advice to help them ensure the safety of the person who has approached them for help.
Signs to look out for when someone is facing a mental illness.
Behavioural: inability to achieve tasks, poor concentration, social withdrawal, disinterest in normal tasks, and reliance on alcohol.
Emotional: feelings of sadness, guilt, frustration, defeat.
Thoughts: feeling like a burden on others, worthlessness and a sense of failure.
Physical signs: disrupted sleep, headaches, fatigue and digestive issues.
If you are someone you know is expe- riencing mental health challenges, the most important thing to do is talk about it. Beyond Blue is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1300 22 4636. You can also email them at any time of day, or chat online from 3pm-12am, seven days a week.
In an emergency situation, and/or if someone is at immediate risk of harm, you can call the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Together, we can help make it easier to talk about mental illness, and support the people we care about.