Why farmers taking a break is important

Article prepared by Franco Greco – February 2020

Each year, one in five of us will experience a mental health problem. Yet if we live in the city we are twice as likely to access a psychologist than those living in a rural area of Victoria, particularly farmers, and their families, facing drought and more recently, the devastation of bushfires. 

Drought and disasters place incredible amounts of stress on farmers and their families. These stresses can manifest in any number of ways, including:

• Withdrawal and isolation from support networks
• Breakdowns in relationships
• Difficulties in making decisions
• Feelings of despair and hopelessness

For those that are living and working in these conditions, it can be particularly challenging and stressful for both individuals and the community.

The following information outlines the key areas of stress experienced in a regional area affected by ongoing drought conditions.

Personal drought related stress:

  • Money/Financial 57%
  • Business pressures 49%
  • Lost contact with friends 16%
  • Not going out 34%
  • More work to do 51%
  • less time for family 28%

Community drought related stress:

  • People leaving the area 45%
  • Losing business & services 46%
  • Not getting together much 36%
  • Countryside has changed 60%
  • Reduced water quality 44%

How the Recharge Program will assist regional communities

Recharge Program is an innovative initiative, endorsed by the Minister for Agriculture, that provides relief to drought and bushfire affected communities and aims to helps build resilience in our farming communities.

People living in rural areas are more likely to seek help from people they trust. Through Recharge Program, we are seeking to build connections with the most impacted farmers living in the drought and bushfire impacted areas.

Through these connections we will seek to help by providing and linking farmers and their families to mental health and wellbeing support.
The RASV is proud to house and support the Recharge Program at Melbourne Showgrounds and to provide connections and integration that ensures the program assists and strengthens regional adaptability within these dynamic conditions.

  •  The Recharge Program provides an opportunity for farmers and their families to invest in their safe care, mental health and wellbeing through providing:

  • A weekend in Melbourne provided to farming families who experience some of the best sport and entertainment options Melbourne can deliver, or, can relax and enjoy Melbourne’s sights and sounds.
  • Shearing Shed Shows that offer a live, intimate gig that is performed on the farms of those doing it the hardest, with the artists courtesy of The Mushroom Group.

Results so far

So far, 31 families have accessed the four Melbourne Retreats that were facilitated in 2019 and 2020. An additional 70 farmers, farm workers and farming families attended the Farmhouse Gig held in Licola.

The program has provided a positive impact on the participants with some of the thoughts shared below:

“It was beyond nice to escape the pressures of our real life and just focus on our family. The kids had a fantastic time and we have great memories that will last our lifetime.”

“Our family does struggle to have time together due to heavy work commitments, so I think just hanging out together was the best thing about the weekend away.”

“It was the only holiday we will get this year and it was just wonderful. Thanks again for giving us such a great weekend and helping us give those fantastic memories to the kids.”

“It was wonderful to just get away and pretend that our problems at home had just melted away, even for a short time.”

Find out more 

To find out more about the Recharge program, please contact The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria communications@rasv.com.au.

I will be regularly posting articles on farmer mental health and wellbeing and looking forward to hearing about your views and any topics you would like me to cover.

Mental Health Support

Franco Greco - Consulting Psychologist - Recharge Program and Delivered Live

Franco provides expert mental health advice and services to assist and support fire and drought impacted farmers and their communities in Victoria. He is also Delivered Live’s consulting psychologist on mental health and wellbeing regarding COVID-19.
Franco is also the Principal Psychologist at Your Psychologist (www.yourpsychologist.net.au) - a unique private practice dedicated to helping professional people improve their life, career and relationships.