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Hokonui Hills Jeffowenphotos 20 Jan 2011 CC BY 2.0

"Crack on with the conversation"

Talking helps farmers navigate the storms of life.

Gore is a Southland town servicing a predominantly rural community. It shares many public health issues with similar rural communities, including the mental health of farmers and farm labourers. Long working hours, isolation, and external environmental factors such as storms, droughts and disease outbreak can be significant sources of stress.

A group of our Nursing students investigated this issue. They found that the problem is compounded by difficulties seeking help, due to social stigma and having to take time off work to travel in to Gore. Social activities and connections, for example through sport or over a drink, can be helpful for mental health. The team decided to create a resource that would encourage farmers to talk about mental health, to reduce the social stigma and strengthen social ties. They designed and produced a drink holder with the message "Crack open a cold one and crack on with the conversation". 

Having provided samples to a contact in Gore, the students were delighted to hear that their initiative was commended to organisers of a national mental health event in Balclutha on 31 July 2019. The students and their supervisor Jean Ross had the opportunity to attend and speak briefly at the event, and our School of Nursing provided 200 of the drink holders which were distributed to farmers there. The drink holders will now be paid for and distributed by organisers of the next 'Will to Live' national tour.

January 2020