Spikes in calls to The Rural Support Trust immediately after the conclusion of events designed to help boost mental health and wellbeing among New Zealand farmers demonstrates how important continued support is.
The Rural Support Trust has been running a regional rural community speaker series for the past year fronted by local identity and farmer Matt Chisholm who openly shares his own challenges with mental health and how he has navigated his way through.
Named the Time Out Tour, Mike Green, Rural Support National Council Board Member describes their impact as far-reaching saying for each person that attends, four more are helped given the closeness of rural communities.
“Generally, after these events, we get a rise in calls and enquiries, quite often starting on the night of the event. People attending will often talk about their own problems, or those of family and friends,” he says.
“Our normal practice is to offer support through taking names and contacts, then follow through with a call and often an in-person visit. We identify what issues need addressing, assist in identifying potential options to move forward, provide support through their decision-making process and next steps, and keep the follow up and contact going until they are comfortable and able to cope with their challenges.”
Mike says rising on-farm costs and compounding regulations are all adding to the stress for New Zealand farmers and others living rurally. “Fortunately, what was once a taboo subject has now come to the forefront. And the earlier people can get out of a negative space, the easier it is to move forward. That’s why it is important people take notice, take care of each other, and be aware of each other and aware that there is help out there.”
To date more than 2,000 farming families have attended a local Time Out Tour event in their community. The Tour has been supported by partners, including agri technology company Datamars Livestock.
“The attendance and call data as a result of these events reiterate why it’s important that more of us get involved to help these initiatives,” says Datamars GM for New Zealand, Matt Cashmore. “It’s not just the immediate community that benefits, but those that connect to and serve them. Through our own team member attendance at the events, we learn more about the challenges and ways that we can identify issues and support our customers and farmer partners that we see and work with daily.”
The next evolution of the Tour starts on 3 November after the busy lambing and calving season in New Zealand. This time speaker Matt Chisholm will share insights into the tools that have helped him manage anxiety which now affects over 300 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organisation.
Datamars Livestock is proud to support the Time Out Tour and the Rural Support Trust alongside other partners’ ANZ, Bayleys, BDO, Fonterra and MPI.