Mental health seems to have become something of a catch-phrase in recent years, but it is a serious issue, particularly in rural and regional Australia.
Considering the vastness of Australia and the number of people living in rural and regional areas, it is a concerning fact that remoteness is a major risk factor contributing to mental health issues and suicide.
In fact, suicide rates are 60 per cent highter in rural and regional settings than they are in major cities.
People in outer regional, remote or very remote areas of Australia face more barriers to accessing health care than those living in major cities, making it harder for them to maintain good mental health.
Member of Beyond Blue’s Board of Directors, Derek Schoen said the farming community had endured many challenges over the years.
“Through droughts, floods, bushfires and the ongoing COVID-19 related issues, rural Australia and country people are stoic and display considerable courage,” Mr Schoen said.
“However, the impact on mental health has been significant for many. “As a farmer, you’re working by yourself.
“There are far distances to the next neighbour or town.
“In the city you can feel isolated surrounded by people, but in the country you’re isolated alone.
“It’s a bridge too far.
“It’s not a sign of weakness to reach out for help.
“It’s a sign of strength.
“We encourage people to reach out.”
Mr Schoen, a farmer for more than 36 years producing beef, grain and hay in Corowa, is a member and former president of the NSW Farmers Association, a former deputy mayor of Corowa Shire Council, NSW Rural Assistance Authority Board Director, Chair of Murray Local Land Services and provides a wealth of experience on rural life.
His family farm of around 7000 acres right on the NSW/Victorian border is a third generation, possibly nudging a fourth generation holdindg as his son and daughter-in-law have just delivered a son to the family.
Mr Schoen said that calls to helplines and new access had increased substantially.
He said that while country areas were not hugely impacted by lockdowns and the pandemic may not have been as widely felt, country folk faced many other challenges on a regular basis.
“They have their challenges,” he said.
“Varroa mite, the potential of foot and mouth.
“It is incredibly important that people don’t take it (foot and mouth) flippantly.
“If Foot and Mouth gets into the country it won’t only affect rural people, it will impact urban people as well.
“It will have an $80 billion impact on the economy.
“Some people just feel like they can’t catch a trick.
“It’s devastating.” Leading animal health business, Zoetis has partnered with Beyond Blue, and over the past six years has raised $600,000 for the Beyond Blue Support Service by donating $5 from each sale of the company’s livestock, pig and poultry vaccines and drenches.
To date over 12,000 people have been able to receive the support they need through the service thanks to Zoetis’ donation.
In 2022, Zoetis aims to reach its $100,000 fundraising target by the end of the year.
If you have concerns for yours or someone else’s mental health, reach out to Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
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