Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rural health

The Mental Health Foundation announced the online release of ‘‘Down on the farm: Depression and mental health in the rural south’’ earlier this month.

The 16-page supplement was produced by 2009 New Zealand Mental Health Media Grant recipient Yvonne O’Hara. Originally published on 29 September and 6 October in the Southern Rural Life and Courier Country respectively to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, the resource has now been made available for download via the Mental Health Foundation’s website.

‘‘Down on the farm: Depression and mental health in the rural south’’ features articles on stress management, financial planning, depression and grief as well as providing information on support services available.

The aim of the publication is to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues and to encourage the traditionally stoical and staunch farming community to talk about their problems, and to seek help if necessary.

Feedback so far has been extremely positive with one reader writing, “As a farmer's wife in my mid thirties, for the first time in years I feel compelled to give feedback on something received in the post. I have just read the Down on the Farm supplement from cover and cover and really wanted to drop you this line to commend all those involved with it. The approach taken is spot on. The medium, as a supplement in a well known farming mag, has made it hugely accessible. The supplement itself was filled with great information, real and practical advice, with great sharing of stories from real and respected people in the rural sector. The cross section and range of articles was thorough and well thought out, from youth to long term farmers, along with aspects like the article for widows. Importantly it has a great readability factor to it. Overall it provides an excellent resource not only for people experiencing or having experienced depression, but for their friends and family who want to know what they can do to help. Through the countless bits of newsprint that passes through our mail box these days, this supplement is definitely a keeper and one I will be sure to share with friends and family.

Despite being specifically aimed at the communities around Southland, Otago and Canterbury, ‘‘Down on the farm: Depression and mental health in the rural south’’ offers valuable advice to anyone within the farming community.

(Incidentally, the cover picture is superb. This portrait, entitled Killing Time, is by Cromwell artist Deidre Copeland, with permission from the subject’s family. More of her artwork can be viewed on her website.)

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