HELPING HANDS: Cynthia McDonald and her husband Jamie have seen their fair share of farmers struggling.
HELPING HANDS: Cynthia McDonald and her husband Jamie have seen their fair share of farmers struggling. Marian Faa

Figures show our farmers battling a brutal slog

AS FARMERS battle through what some have called the worst Australian drought in history, it has taken a toll on them not just financially but also emotionally.

Mental health is under the spotlight for Men's Health Week and with figures showing male farmers die from suicide at around twice the rate of the national average, those affected are being urged to seek the help available.

Former drought coordinator for the Southern Downs Regional Council Pam Burley said farmers needed to think of their own wellbeing, as well as that of their business.

"Farmers are a stoic bunch, they take care of their farms and animals but often not themselves," she said.

Mrs Burley aimed to not just empower the "at-risk" individuals but also those around them.

"The best thing to do is to build the skills of the people around the at-risk person.

"Our programs worked at upskilling everyone in the community to better cope with struggling individuals," she said.

Beef cattle farmer from Wingarra Cynthia McDonald said bureaucratic stresses often wore down farmers.

"The time it takes to get through basic processes like grant applications can be up to 12 months, it makes them frustrated," she said.

Mrs McDonald said she had come across a few farmers who were at a mental low point.

"When I encounter it, I try my best to contact someone they are close to and, if that falls through, agencies like Primary Health Networks, Salvation Army and Red Cross all provide services to help," she said.

The isolation that comes with farming can make it hard to reach out for help, but Mrs McDonald said farmers had to find a way to break down those walls.

"We are in such an extreme drought and people have to be willing to put their hands up in order to get the support they need," she said.

If you need any support contact Lifeline at 131114.