Working with farmers to break down barriers and promote wellbeing

Posted 16th November 2023 in Sector news

Steering Straight: My Plan to Keep on Track (Steering Straight) is a resource that guides farmers to put plans in place to ensure their wellbeing is prioritised even when challenging situations arise. The resource has been developed by the National Centre for Farmer Health and co-designed with farmers as part of Victoria’s Great South Coast Suicide Prevention Place-based trial.

Steering Straight has adapted principles of suicide safety planning to develop a resource for preventing and managing risks to mental health. The downloadable resource helps farmers to:

  • Know what activities help people stay positive during tough times
  • Achieve future goals and break them down into manageable steps
  • Know who to call for support when tackling a goal or a challenge.

Rural farming communities experience higher rates of suicide than the general population. While rates of mental distress are similar between rural communities and metropolitan areas, a much smaller proportion of rural people seek professional help. This may be due to a number of factors, including availability and access to appropriate services, concerns about privacy and stigma and cultural norms to manage problems alone.

Steering Straight plays a role in addressing this need by providing a resource for self-management that promotes wellbeing and helps prevent and manage mental health risks.

Researchers from the National Centre for Farmer Health pilot tested Steering Straight with 24 farming community members, with 94% of pilot testers responding that they would recommend the resource to others.

Pilot testers identified five key benefits of the resource. It was viewed as a useful tool that prompts prioritising wellbeing, encourages reflection, planning and concrete steps towards taking action, helps set and meet personal goals, is simple and practical, and identifies pathways to support.

“We’re excited to be able to share this resource that has been co-designed with members of our farming communities. Steering Straight has been designed to prevent people from reaching a crisis point—raising self-awareness, putting practical strategies in place and identifying, making and linking in with personal and professional networks easy,” said National Centre for Farmer Health Director, Alison Kennedy.

“We’ve also now added Steering Straight to other popular National Centre for Farmer Health resources, including our website and the Managing Stress on the Farm booklet, making it easier to access for farmers across Australia.”

For hard copies of any available National Centre for Farmer Health resources, please email [email protected], phone (03) 5551 8533 or follow the link below.

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