Rural Alive and Well helps Tasmanian farmers put mental health first

PUTTING MENTAL HEALTH FIRST: The floods are still raw for many farmers, but a farmer's health is more important than their herd's health, said Rural Alive and Well outreach worker John Clark. Picture: Brodie Weeding
PUTTING MENTAL HEALTH FIRST: The floods are still raw for many farmers, but a farmer's health is more important than their herd's health, said Rural Alive and Well outreach worker John Clark. Picture: Brodie Weeding

It was more than a year ago that the floods surged through Tasmania’s agricultural heartland, but the effects still raw for some farmers.

Rural Alive and Well outreach worker John Clark said he meets farmers throughout the state’s North and North-West who question their mental health in the flood aftermath.

However it is actually the months and years after major events when farmers often need the most support, Mr Clark said.

“We can be there when the emergency happens, but the ongoing nature of farming and coping [after an event like the floods or drought] means we need to keep in touch,” Mr Clark said.

“In the last 18 months farmers have gone from a bad drought to floods and then to the drop in dairy prices at Agfest 2016. Certain subsets have rolled from one to another,” he said.

Mr Clark has seen farmers showing signs of depression and anxiety, and encourages them to see their doctor.

“People in rural areas are incredibly resilient – because they have to be self reliant, but they can develop mental health issues,” Mr Clark said.