Male Farmers’ Perspectives on Psychological Wellbeing Self-Management Strategies That Work for Them and How Barriers to Seeking Professional Mental Health Assistance Could Be Overcome
By Dale D. Woolford, Matthew F. Smout, Deborah Turnbull and Kate M. Gunn
Published 27 September 2022
Researchers from the Department of Rural Health, Freemasons Centre for Male Health and Wellbeing, UniSA Justice and Society, and the School of Psychology at the University of South Australia have examined the self-management strategies that Australian male farmers use to maintain a high level of psychological wellbeing and their views on what would assist them to overcome barriers to seeking professional mental health assistance.
Research and findings
The research was conducted using semi-structured interviews with males 18 years or older who played an active role in farming or pastoral enterprises. Participants were recruited via flyers. Majority of participants were located in South Australia, with one located in Tasmania and one located in the Northern Territory.
To ensure the interview responses did not replicate the existing research previously conducted in this area, participants were provided with a summary of barriers to help-seeking for farmers prior to the interviews, informed by the existing literature.
From the interviews, seven overall themes and two sub themes were found when identifying self-management strategies for psychological wellbeing. Five themes were identified as barriers to help seeking in male farmers.
The research findings suggest the benefit of ‘self-prioritising’ to maintain work-life balance to positively effect psychological wellbeing. Aligning with findings from previous Australian reports, supporting farmers to prioritise themselves along with their work may have long term impacts on mental health and wellbeing.
The research also suggests that creating mental health and suicide prevention educational content may be best distributed and consumed by farmers through podcasts, of which is more suitable for their lifestyle. The research also highlighted the role of media in educating and influencing Australian farmers, of which opportunity exists for the mental health and suicide prevention sector to ensure educational information, and help-seeking messages are incorporated into Australian mainstream media channels.