Mental health essential

Wellbeing. An information day for farmers held at Edith Creek on Tuesday had Rural Alive and Well (RAW) outreach worker Tony Barker share insights into mental health.

A former dairy farmer himself and still actively operating a property in Riana, Mr Barker can relate to the hardships farming brings.

“Focus on what you can control,” he said at the information day, “that will alleviate a huge amount of stress.

“I know it’s really hard in a situation where finances and everything else is really tough, it’s hard to get past that anger of the situation [but] most people in this part of the world farm because they want to.

“There are those in other countries that farm because they have to.

“Of course, the income is necessary but a lot of farmers milk or grow pasture because you love to do it, don’t fall out of love because of [financial pressure].”

Frequently visiting the north west in his support role, Mr Barker described the three keys to gaining and maintaining a positive mindset: resilience, balance and gratitude.

“I see resilience as one of the most important factors to be aware of, not only in farming but life as well.”

In an industry that regularly fluctuates in response to price increases and decreases, environmental patterns, pasture growth, feed availability and more, Mr Barker cited this characteristic as essential.

“Balance is an individual thing that relates to where your values are. Spend your time and energy on things that are of value to you,” he said.

“It’s important to get off the farm and involve yourself in other things; be aware that life is bigger than what happens on the farm.”

Speaking of gratitude, Mr Barker urged the crowd to look for a positive within each negative.

“You are a facilitator of change. The simplest and easiest thing to change is your own perception.”

The state government announced an increase in funding to rural support services on Tuesday in line with an expected increase in demand.

An additional $135,000 will be granted to the Rural Financial Counselling Service over the next three years while RAW will receive $569,000 in total throughout 2016/17.

“We greatly value our dairy farmers and all they contribute to Tasmania, and we will continue to work with them to ensure they have a secure future,” Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jeremy Rockliff said.

The Farm Household Support Package, available through the Australian Government assists farmers experiencing financial hardship with a one-off allowance of $2500.

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