Supporting mental health and wellbeing for farming communities at Henty

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Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) has organised free farmer health checks at the NSW Farmers shed at Henty Machinery Field Days, made possible with funding from the Australian Government’s ‘Empowering Our Communities’ initiative to support mental health and wellbeing in drought affected communities.

The National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) is a partnership between Western District Health Service and Deakin University will be facilitating the health checks. You can book your health check now here.

NCFH Program Coordinator Tracey Hatherell said on offer are 20-minute health checks to farm men, women, agricultural workers and all rural community members.

“Each check will include a lifestyle survey focussing on health behaviours, farm practices, and social and emotional wellbeing,” Ms Hatherell said.

“The health check also includes cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure readings, BMI, and diabetes risk, all of which will help our trained agri-health professionals provide people with meaningful knowledge and skills to improve their health.

“The checks are quick, painless, and an investment in a farmer’s most valuable asset – their health,” she said.

MPHN CEO Melissa Neal said the farmer health checks are just one of many things MPHN is providing at Henty Machinery Field Days to help support mental health and wellbeing in farming communities.

“I’m so pleased we have been able to bring the farmer health checks to Henty Machinery Field Days this year and I would encourage as many people as possible to take advantage of these free health checks,” Ms Neal said.

“MPHN will have our own stand in the Country Lifestyle Pavilion with plenty of information about mental health services and supports we have available in our region, one of which is the free online suicide prevention training known as Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR).

“We know drought impacts both farming families and their communities, and helping to build community capacity to help foster long-term resilience. QPR training provides participants with knowledge and skills to identify warning signs someone might be suicidal, the confidence to talk to them and how to connect them to professional care.

“Also at our stand will be information about our Murrumbidgee Community Grants, which provide funding for up to $30,000 to community-led activities or training to help support mental health and wellbeing in our drought affected communities. This funding is available up until June 2020.

“On stage in the pavilion you can hear two grant recipients discuss the power of group exercise in fostering mental wellness and resilience – Serinah Maddox from Maddox PT in Coolamon will be presenting on Wednesday and on Thursday Ginny Stevens from Actives Farmers in Mangoplah will take the stage.

“I would also like to encourage attendees to collect a free diary from various locations including all entrances where the Official Guide is located, at our stand in the Country Lifestyle Pavilion, at the NSW Farmers Shed where the farmer health checks are also being done, and at the site of Hutcheon and Peace, Ag n Vet, Delta Agribusiness, Rabobank, and Local Land Services.

“The diaries are financial year ones and are undated, making them practical at any time of year,” she said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency should call the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511, Lifeline 13 11 14 or call 000. Or to access the Head to Health website visit www.headtohealth.gov.au.

Debbie Angel