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Rural Professionals Breakfast provides an opportunity to hear from leading experts

Rural Professionals Breakfast provides an opportunity to hear from leading experts

A timely reminder of the signs to look out for and what to do if you are worried about someone.

A recent breakfast for rural professionals gave those driving in farm and orchard gates a chance to learn from leading experts about business continuity amidst adverse events and starting conversations with farmers who may be struggling and need someone to talk to. 

The South Canterbury Rural Support Trust hosted over 50 rural professionals at a breakfast in Timaru to discuss adverse event planning and farmer wellbeing.  Guest speaker Phill Mackay from Civil Defence took attendees through the current preparedness work being undertaken to ensure the region is set up well if an adverse event was to happen. This includes a stock take of rural organisations and their capabilities to ensure everyone has a clear picture of their role should something happen.  Phill is also passionate about business continuity and is currently pulling business continuity resources together as an easy reference for rural businesses to help them develop their business continuity plan. His advice is for all businesses to identify their key risks and have a plan if something were to happen.   

With a range of stressors currently impacting on farmers and growers, the event was a good opportunity to get a refresher on rural mental health.  Annette Beautrais has been working in the mental health field for 27 years and is New Zealand’s most experienced suicidologist.  Annette took the group through the range of factors that can impact on our rural communities and individual’s mental health, some of which are unique to rural areas and businesses. 

With many of the attendees being regular visitors to farmers and growers, it was a timely reminder of the signs to look out for and what to do if you are worried about someone including how to start a conversation.  She noted it is important to ask open questions, which gives people the chance to open up more than if closed questions are used, making it too easy to just answer yes or no.  Normalise their distress so they understand it is a normal reaction that most people would have in similar circumstances and that it’s okay to feel that way.  She also gave a run down on the range of services available to provide further help and how to approach this with the person if you remain worried. 

All attendees left with a comprehensive wellbeing folder with a multitude of resources to help support themselves and those around them.   

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