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Treat yourself like you would a broken tractor, says Rural Support Trust
Katrina Thomas

Treat yourself like you would a broken tractor, says Rural Support Trust

From Country Life, Producer and Reporter Leah Tebbutt

Listen to Mike talk to Leah Tebbutt - 5:24 minutes

Ease up and take one step at a time' is one piece of advice to farmers and growers suffering after calamitous weather this year.

People struggling with their mental health often try to work harder, hoping that will relieve the pressure, says Rural Support Taranaki chair Mike Green.

"You're better off slowing down," he tells Country Life.

Green doesn't believe New Zealand farmers have fully weathered the storm just yet.

"Like any industry, you get some challenging times and I think we are heading to one of those at the moment," he says.

Rising on-farm costs and compounding regulations are all adding to the stress for farmers and others living rurally.

"One of the big things is the community taking ownership. A lot of times people will talk about Johnny not turning up at the squash club, or Steve at the golf club.

"Instead of just making the comment, go and find out why they are not there. Because a lot of cases that is the early signs of issues going on - withdrawal."

Green said over the 43 years in which he had been part of the farming sector, needs have changed. 

He put it down to awareness of mental well-being. What once was a taboo subject had now come to the forefront.

"If your tractor is buggered, you'll go and get it fixed. If your animals are crook you will go and get the vet. But what do you do if you are not well yourself?

"A lot of people just bury it."

The earlier people can pull themselves out of a negative space, the easier it is to move forward, Green says.

Yet he says people struggling with their mental health often try to work harder, hoping that will relieve the pressure.

Usually, the reverse applies.

"You're better off slowing down even to the point of writing a list.

"Instead of trying to do 10 things at once, have a list of 10 things and just do one thing at a time. Then you are achieving something in your own mind by ticking one thing off at a time."

It will take some farmers 10 years to recover from the effect of recent weather events which had continued throughout the year, Green says.

The number of farms suffering from recent severe weather as well as the damage incurred outweighed funds raised by Rural Support Trust.

"There have been suicides. It is unfortunate and is something we just don't want to see happening.

"It is important people take notice, take care of each other and be aware of each other and aware that there is help out there."

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