Farmers frustrated by the mental health puzzle 

Suicide rates are 40% higher outside metro areas and higher again among the agricultural community. Bob Katter claims “A Farmer dies by suicide every four days”. This is hard to provide one way or the other due to a lack of reliable data but the point remains that suicide is a real problem among the farming community. Why is this the case? 

How many male farmers do you know that talk openly about their emotional distress? How many do you know that have told their loved ones they may not be able to cope much longer and that they need care and consideration? You are right- not many! Farmers pride themselves on their ruggedness and strength. 

Farmers are also isolated, pride themselves on their self-reliance and sometimes lead a stressful life-style. The life-style is stressful due to occupational factors, variable weather, harvest, commodity prices and economic conditions. Social isolation due to distance and lack of easy access to social supports is also a key driver of poor mental health.

Male farmers report less psychological distress than their female associates, yet they take their lives much more often? What gives? 

It turns out that depression tests look for complaints of worrying, nervous distress and unhappiness. All characteristics that a self-sufficient male farmer is unlikely to admit. Instead the male farmer may withdraw from their friends, throw themselves into their work or use alcohol or other substances to numb the pain. 

Mental health services are also thin on the ground in regional/rural and especially outer rural areas. Then there is the stigma associated with seeking help. How many farmers do you know that want to brag about how good the Doctor was in helping their improve mental health battles? 

GP’s that are often the entry point to mental healthcare are also scarce in the country, however Dokotela provides access to GP's remotely if visiting a local GP is a logistical nightmare. Dokotela than provides the next solution -  access specialist mental health professional services from the comfort of the farmers home. This helps break down one of the barriers preventing farmers seeking help - invasion of privacy! 

Dr Zelko Mustac, Psychiatrist at Dokotela

For more information about the services provided by Dokotela and to get in touch click here

Ginny Stevens