The National Centre for Farmer Health – working together to break down barriers to mental health support

The recent National Farmer Wellbeing report has highlighted the challenges that farmers face when it comes to managing their mental health and the need for accessible support services, such as those available through the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH).

The National Centre for Farmer Health provides evidence-based resources and programs to support the mental and physical health of farmers. Free resources including factsheets, podcasts and assessment tools are available on the Farmer Health website along with access to the popular Managing Stress on the Farm booklet—a practical guide to identifying and dealing with common causes of stress on farms. 

The simple-to-use Steering Straight action plan included in the booklet helps farmers to identify personal triggers and strategies for easing stress, prepare for challenges ahead, and identify helpful resources available to them. Steering Straight was co-designed with farmers and mental health professionals.

The Centre is leading the #BuildingFarmSpirit social media campaign to improve the wellbeing of farmers. The campaign is raising awareness of the challenges farmers face, while also sharing and celebrating positive examples of how they are managing ongoing seasonal challenges.  The Centre has also partnered with Lysn—a leading online mental health service provider—to provide farmers easy access to farmer health trained psychologists.    

Dr Alison Kennedy, Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health calls for continuing collaboration in response to risks to farmer mental health: ‘The challenges noted in the National Farmer Wellbeing report remind us of the importance of raising farmers’ awareness about the support that is available to them now and into the future. While we need to continue to work with farmers, industry and stakeholders nationally to develop effective, evidence-based solutions to the ongoing challenges our farmers face, we also need to collectively encourage farmers to access supports that are already available. This is a time when working together is more important than ever—collaboration rather than confusion.’

An evaluation conducted in 2022 of some of its programs demonstrated that the NCFH plays a critical role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of farmers across Australia.

‘The evaluation was a testament to the value of the Centre’s evidence-based resources and programs and shows that investing in mental health support for farmers not only improves the wellbeing of individuals and communities but also has the potential to save government significant costs associated with poor mental health outcomes.’ Dr Kennedy said.

The National Centre for Farmer Health remains committed to working collaboratively to provide innovative and effective programs and resources to support the mental and physical health of farmers across Australia and are calling for funding commitments from federal and state governments to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of farmers and their families, and contribute to the overall wellbeing and prosperity of rural communities.

‘The Centre has been a leader in farmer mental health, wellbeing and safety for over 15 years, often in partnership with community, industry and other stakeholders. Despite uncertainty about continuing Victorian Government funding of the Centre beyond June 2023, we are committed to maximising our efforts to make a difference to farmers’ lives across Australia.’ Dr Kennedy said.

If you need immediate help or are concerned about someone, reach out to Lifeline via 13 11 14 or in an emergency where there is an immediate risk of harm to a person call 000.

To access the resources currently available, please visit
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