Mental health is a key component of overall health and wellbeing. The National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing conducted in 2007 found that an estimated one in five Australians aged 16 to 85 had experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months. While those living in rural and remote areas face additional challenges due to their geographic location and often have poorer health outcomes than people living in metropolitan areas. A 2020 study by the Australian Health and Wellbeing Institute corroborated the experience of mental health in regions with suicide rates among the highest in the Queensland regions of Burnett, Southwestern Queensland and Tablelands – Kuranda. With males three to four times more likely to take their own lives than females.
Numbers and rates of deaths by suicide change over time as social, economic and environmental factors influence suicide risk. The pressures of the land are currently heightened with ongoing drought conditions across many parts of Queensland, other natural disasters, COVID-19, labour shortages and coexistence challenges amongst a growing list of issues. So, reflecting on our own mental health and wellbeing and reaching out to our loved ones and friends has never been timelier. To raise awareness for these challenges, people across the state are coming together for Queensland Mental Health Week this week, 9 – 17 October, to start conversations and shine a spotlight on the importance of positive mental health and wellbeing.
QFF is taking a proactive approach through the Supporting the Supporters program, by creating an industry support network for farmers equipping them with the skills and resources they need to help carry the burden and mentor fellow farmers during recovery from a disaster. With the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing currently being updated and further data required, QFF will continue to advocate to government, mental health support organisations, key industry associations and community groups for help to overturn these trends affecting our rural and regional communities.
Talk to your friends, family, your healthcare professional, one of the free services, as long as you talk to someone: www.qldmentalhealthweek.org.au/find-help/.