Farmers seek support as conditions worsen

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Farmers seek support as conditions worsen

Australian farmers are seeking mental health support at almost twice the rate they were seeking assistance last year, according to trusted rural charity, Rural Aid.

In the past two months, Rural Aid counsellors have conducted 277 counselling sessions, a 95% increase compared to the same period last year.

Rural Aid’s counselling helpline is currently fielding an average of 13 calls each day from primary producers.

Rural Aid offers free, confidential counselling to farmers, their family members and their workers.

Rural Aid’s Manager of Mental Health and Wellbeing Myf Pitcher said the range of topics that farmers are worried about has also recently widened.

“This time last year, our farmers were primarily coming to us with concerns about flooding and stress,” she said.

“At the moment, farmers are worried about bushfires, dry conditions, water scarcity, fodder, varroa mite and poor stock prices.

“Our farmers have moved from states of stress to states of desperation.”

Sheep and cattle farmer Ron Dooley said the Rural Aid counselling service helped him get through a difficult time after the Black Summer bushfires.

“I had a bit of a mishap when I was fighting the front of the fire. I could not see where I was going and I ran into a dam wall and stalled the tractor with the flames coming through the bottom of the tractor,” he said.

“It was a bit hard when you sat back after that and thought back to what could have been.

“After talking with Darren from Rural Aid, he [helped me to make] some decisions on what to do when feeling like that, and it did help.”

Rural Aid’s East Gippsland Counsellor and Community Representative Darren Devlin said farmers can easily get overwhelmed by the myriad of decisions they encounter after a disaster.

“Most of the people I have spoken to never really got over one disaster before it rolled into the next,” he said.

“It becomes very hard to reach out; you’re doubting yourself. My suggestion is reach out sooner rather than later.”

Farmers are being encouraged to reach out to Rural Aid for a helping hand with their mental health.

Rural Aid counsellors catch up with their farmers where they’re most comfortable; whether it’s on farm, in town, or over the phone.

Rural Aid’s counselling intake line can be contacted on 1300 175 594.

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