Mental Health 4 Ag

MH4Ag: Co-designing a peer-supported approach to improve mental health in rural farming communities

Compared to the general Australian population, rural farming communities face higher risk of suicide. While farmers are generous at providing help to others, they are often reluctant to ask for help themselves. Living in rural areas, access to mental health support is limited and where support is available, providers may have poor understanding of the realities of life and work in the farming environment. This project aims to develop a framework — working with farming community members and rural stakeholders from Victoria’s Great South Coast region — for the delivery of peer-supported, evidenced-based psychological therapy to farming community members experiencing depression or psychological/situational distress. To complement this, the project will also work with farmers and community stakeholders to develop a personal challenge ’action plan’ template for members of the farming community. Working with farmers to develop a personalised, practical ’action plan’ aims to help improve farmers’ and farming community members’ ability to focus on what TO DO in a challenging situation, rather than what NOT TO DO.

The project is led by the National Centre for Farmer Health in partnership with researchers from Western District Health Service, Deakin Rural Health, the University of South Australia, La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne.

This project is funded by the Western Victoria Primary Health Network.

How you can be involved

Community Working Group

A Community Working Group (made up of farmers and community stakeholders from Victoria’s Great South Coast Region) will meet monthly to help guide the project and to provide feedback on the development of the personal challenge ‘action plan’. Meetings will be held online during COVID-19 restrictions (likely to remain for the duration of the project). Members attending in their own time (i.e. not as part of their paid employment role) will be offered a sitting fee of $100 (voucher of choice) per meeting to offset some of the associated cost with taking time away from their business/work to contribute to the project.

Co-Design workshops

Co-design workshops involve bringing people together to discuss a particular topic to ensure that we design resources that are more engaging and relevant for you. In this project, farming community members and service providers/rural stakeholders from across Victoria’s Great South Coast region will participate in co-design workshops to inform the development of a framework for delivering peer-supported Behavioural Activation support to farming community members experiencing depression or psychological/situational distress. During COVID-19 restrictions (likely to remain for the duration of the project), all co-design workshops will be held online. Workshops will be interactive and involve a range of activities such as virtual brainstorming, ranking of ideas and group discussion. Being online, you can participate from your own home. Participants attending a workshop in their own time (i.e. not as part of their paid employment role) will be offered a sitting fee of $100 (voucher of choice) to offset some of the associated cost with taking time away from their business/work to contribute to the project.

Feedback workshop

Information from the co-design workshops will be used to inform the development of a pilot framework which will be fed-back to the farming community members and stakeholders through a community presentation and feedback workshop. All participants from the co-design workshop will be invited to contribute to the feedback workshop. Interested people from the broader rural community will also be welcome to attend the feedback workshop. The workshop will be held online during COVID-19 restrictions (likely to remain for the duration of the project).

Feasibility testing of personal challenge ‘Action Plan’ template

The template of the personal challenge ‘Action Plan’ plan will be pilot tested for feasibility, appropriateness and relevance via an online survey. The survey will be sent through the National Centre for Farmer Health farming community and industry networks (including Farmer Health website, social media and NCFH eNews). The survey will involve participants completing their own personal challenge ‘Action Plan’ template and answering some simple questions.

Important Information

Want to know more?

If you are interested in knowing more about this project or would like to find out how to get involved, please contact:

Dr Alison Kennedy
(03) 5551 8587