Press Release – Dairy Womens Network
27 June 2013
Wellbeing workshops respond to increase in post-drought farmer stress
Farmers and rural professionals are being invited to a series of free one-day workshops to learn to effectively respond to neighbours, friends, employees or clients who may be experiencing mentally stressful and difficult times as a result of the recent drought which affected many of the country’s farmers.
The first MH (Mental Health) 101 workshop in Rotorua on 4 July is one of 11 that will be held throughout the country to help farmers and rural professionals do more when it comes to looking out for each other’s mental wellbeing. The Rotorua workshop will be followed by another in Gore on 16 July.
The workshops are limited to 22 spaces each which are available on a first-come first-served basis.
The workshops have been made available through a partnership between the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN), DairyNZ, Ministry of Primary Industries Primary Growth Partnership and the Ministry of Health.
DWN Farmer Wellness project manager Lynda Clark said that while the workshops were part of the DWN’s wider programme of work to promote mental wellness, they were primarily being offered in response to what has been a particularly difficult six months for many farmers.
Ms Clark said burnout, fatigue and stress can be significant issues for dairy farmers at any time, and are exacerbated after a significant event like this year’s drought.
“In the past year alone we’ve talked to 506 dairy farmers about their emotional wellbeing at our Health Pitstops, which are run by the New Zealand Rural Institute for Health and AgResearch at various events throughout the country. Many farmers told us that more information is needed on coping mechanisms – a key tool for building resilience.
“We also know that under- reporting of mental un-wellness is a factor with farmers. Unfortunately the hard–man farmer stereotype isn’t a rural myth – it exists and it affects how farmers prioritise their mental and physical wellbeing – in many cases it’s at bottom of the list.”
MH101 was originally developed by the Ministry of Health for people working in frontline roles such as the Police and social sector agencies to give them the confidence to recognise, relate and respond to people experiencing mental illness.
Ms Clark said training facilitator Blueprint for Learning has customised the workshop’s content for a rural audience – which was tested through two pilot workshops in the Waikato earlier this year.
She added that MH101 is as relevant for agribusiness professionals, such as vets, accountants, rural bankers and farm consultants, as it is for farmers.
“Rural professionals have an important role to play because they are on the farm doing business on a regular basis. It’s essential that they know the signs to look out for if someone is becoming distressed, what they can do and where to go for help – and that’s exactly what MH101 teaches,” said Ms Clark.
More than 4000 people across New Zealand have completed MH101 training which is delivered by one of New Zealand’s only specialist training organisations for the mental health workforce – Blueprint for Learning.
At this stage MH101 workshops will be held at the Rotorua Distinction Hotel and Conference Centre on Thursday, 4 July 2013 and in Gore at the Heartland Hotel Croydon on Tuesday, 16 July. Both workshops run from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Attendance is by registration only. For more information email Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org