Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Positivity key, says farmer

Fieldays speaker on mission to steer others in the industry from depression and suicide.

Doug Avery knows what it's like to be depressed.

Eighteen years ago he suffered through five years of depression when his "life fell to bits" during a big drought. He was financially and emotionally broken.

But slowly, and with the help of his wife and others, the Marlborough farmer turned his life around.

He went from broke to wealthy, broken to healthy, was named South Island Farmer of the Year in 2010 and three years later was awarded Agricultural Communicator of the Year.

And he's been talking ever since to rural people, trying to steer them away from depression and suicide and into rewarding, successful lives.

Mr Avery is The Resilient Farmer and yesterday at Fieldays he gave a seminar outlining the mental tools needed to thrive in one of our most demanding industries.

About 28 farmers commit suicide each year in New Zealand.

This year they have been battling challenging conditions, including a low milk payout, which has led to financial stress.

Mr Avery said every farmer goes through peaks and valleys but the trick to building a more resilient future in agriculture was to keep up with change.

He listed five ways farmers could avoid depression and become resilient: connect with people instead of keeping isolated, give time and energy to others and reap the rewards, take notice of what's going on around you, don't personalise problems that are not yours, and keep learning.

Mr Avery stressed the importance of having a positive attitude and building strong relationships.

"How often in your life have you found yourself criticising somebody? We've all done it. But it's a completely different result when you spend your energy telling people they're great."

Mr Avery will speak again on the topic today and tomorrow at the Village Green Stage.

For more information on The Resilient Farmer visit

u>Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

- NZ Herald

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