Rising pressures on farmers and alarming statistics that show depression is a real issue in rural communities has got Federated Farmers looking at what resources are available to address rural mental wellbeing.
As a result we are trialling an initiative to get people talking about depression, with the aim of removing its stigma and encouraging people to seek help when they need it.
Recently released data from the Ministry of Health and Statistics New Zealand show the suicide rate for those living in rural areas is 16 per 100,000 people, compared to a rate of 11.2 per 100,000 people in urban areas.
The highest number of rural suicides is in the 25 to 44 age bracket, with men showing a significantly higher suicide rate than women.
Federated Farmers believes it is time to address these statistics and get the rural sector and mental health organisations to work together to develop a proactive strategy to address the problem.
With the help of Primary ITO and Farmsafe, a wallet-sized card, with the numbers of several helplines for farmers to call when they feel under pressure, is being distributed to Federation members with member cards.
As well as raising farmer awareness of the resources available to help them get through, the Federation hopes these cards will be the first step towards getting the rural sector and mental health organisations to improve their working relationship and develop proactive solutions to rural depression.
This is vital. The reality is rural people can get depressed and in a more isolated work environment the challenges to get better can be more difficult. We need to ensure that when rural people need help and support, they get it. While these cards are being sent to Federated Farmers members, they are freely available to download on www.fedfarm.org.nz.
If you or a family member or friend is struggling with depression, visit www.depression.org.nz for more information.