NSW drought: Mental health just as vital as stock feed and water | Audio

DESTOCKING and feed might be the hot topics for drought-affected farmers, but mental health should be just as important, nurse Di Gill says.

Currently 100 per cent of the Central Tablelands has been declared in drought, or at the onset of drought, and Bathurst’s farmers and stock are doing it tough.

More than 100 farmers attended a recent drought information session in Bathurst where they sought advice from experts on how to deal with the tough conditions.

Among the experts, was Rural Adversity Mental Health Program mental health co-ordinator Di Gill who encouraged people to look after each other.

“It’s very good to have lots of information about looking after your stock and your fodder, but if you’re not thinking clearly you can’t make those decisions,” she said.

“Often people wait until they’re so unwell they can’t make the decisions so they need to be assessed by their GP. I also stress the importance of looking after physical health, because physical health and mental health are tied together.

“When we become physically unwell, our mental health declines as well.”

Ms Gill said eating and sleeping well, not over-indulging with alcohol or substances, and staying connected to family and friends were vital at this time.

“It’s really important to have those regular check ups with the doctor, sometimes we think we’re losing it with our mentality, but sometimes it could be a physical thing,” she said. “A chat to someone may bring you back on track and make life a bit easier for you, your family and those around you.”

Ms Gill said there were a number of signs people display when they are struggling.

“They withdraw, they don’t talk, they can get a bit aggressive, grumpy, not sleeping, not eating, not making wise decisions,” she said.

Ms Gill suggested that if people see three of these signs with a friend of family member that they should “tap them on the shoulder and say ‘I’m a bit worried about you’”.

“Don’t hesitate to ask someone if you’re worried about them, be upfront [and say] ‘I’m really concerned about you, what can we do together to help you’,” she said.

Support services are also available over the phone for those who need to talk.

“When you’re waking up at 2am, your thoughts are racing, you need to talk to someone, you don’t want to disturb the family, there’s lots of good lines out there,” Ms Gill said.

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
  • Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, www.ramhp.com.au