Monday, 08 October 2018 10:40

Mental health workshop focus on rural people

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Good Yarn workshop participants in Carterton. Good Yarn workshop participants in Carterton.

Workshops being held across the country are equipping farmers and rural professionals with the tools to recognise and support those who are struggling.

NZ Young Farmers has organised five of the Good Yarn workshops, the second of which was held in Carterton last week. 

Greytown dairy farmer Rachel Gardner, one of 14 attendees last week, is encouraging other young people to talk about mental health.

“The workshop was really informative and a great way to develop new skills,” said the 24-year-old, who contract milks 650 cows.

“I now have the confidence to recognise signs of stress or mental illness in those around me and how to approach the issue.”

Good Yarn workshops have been developed for farmers and rural professionals.

They equip people with the tools to recognise if a family member, farming colleague or customer is struggling and where to seek support.

“It was a really good workshop. The group was open to sharing their experiences, which generated some great discussion,” said Megan Bates from NZ Young Farmers.

“That’s the beauty of these sessions, they’re small so people often feel more comfortable giving everything a go.”

Adverse weather events, animal health problems and relationship issues can all have a negative impact on a person’s ability to cope and make good decisions.

People who aren’t coping may lose interest in activities, struggle with daily challenges and their personality may change.

“All of those signs can vary in severity, but if you’re worried, encourage that person to seek professional support,” said Megan.

“The key thing is that you don’t need to be an expert on mental health to have a chat to someone about it.”

The workshops also teach participants how to look after themselves.

“It was great for learning tips to improve your own mental health during times of stress,” said Rachel.

International research has found that people who thrive have five things in common.

They feel connected with others, give regularly, keep learning, are physically active and enjoy the simple things in life.

“That’s why belonging to a NZ Young Farmers club can be really beneficial for young people, especially if they work on a farm alone,” said Megan.

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