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The Elephant in the Paddock

A project aimed at tackling the tough questions and issues facing our farming communities is back. Council have teamed up with a number of rural support agencies to check in on the wellbeing of our rural communities

Elephant and cows
The Wellbeing of the Hauraki Rural Community

Advice to whānau/family and friends
Te Oranga o ngā tangata Pāmu

Farming's more than "just a job"

Office workers get to go home and switch off at the end of the day but farming isn't like that. Farming is a lifestyle which may seem idyllic at times but it's definitely not all happy cows and buttercups.

Farmers are some of the hardest working people in our communities and you're also dealing with a lot of pressure to get the best out of your farm. There are many things that are out of your control, such as the weather, and you're on call 24/7 which can make it hard to get off the farm and lead to exhaustion, anxiety and feelings of isolation.


How to spot the elephant in the paddock

Elephants come in all shapes and sizes but there are some common signs to look out for:

  • Having a low mood that you can’t seem to shake off
  • Having little or no interest in the things you used to enjoy
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Feeling irritable more than usual
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Problems with concentration and staying focused
  • Low self-esteem and loss of libido
  • Feeling empty, lonely and isolated
  • Increased use of alcohol or other forms of self medicating
  • Feeling embarrassed or ashamed about not being able to cope
  • Feeling anxious and worried about being seen as a failure
  • Feeling overwhelmed by tasks/events/expectations that normally would be easy to handle

 

 

Our farmers' stories

We have talked to three local families within the Hauraki District to get real life accounts about their journeys and stress coping strategies on the farm. Available here soon.

Spread the word

Please share this page with others who may benefit from this information. It can also be downloaded and printed in a handy take-away style:

About the project

To find out where the project came from and why it's been resurrected view  the news article 28 August 2020.

Farming family Rogers
"When you're tired, wet and cold, something small like a water pump breaking down can be the last straw. Then you get on the phone to someone you know in the same boat, and you realise it's not just you having a bad day. I have a nucleus of people I can talk to if things aren't going well."
- Graham Rogers
"I've made meals for people I know are struggling. It’s just something little I could do to help, but small things can make a huge difference."
- Melanie Rogers
Speaking up could save a life

If you're worried about someone who may be experiencing the effects of unhealthy stress or depression then don't be afraid to bring the subject up directly. Starting a conversation with someone about this topic can be hard but the best approach is to be direct and supportive. Trust your own instincts and say it how you could handle hearing it.

Many people experience unhealthy stress or depression at some point in their lives. If you're feeling down, constantly worried or anxious it's important to remember you won't feel this way forever. Blue skies always follow rain, and with the right help and support you'll also feel better in time.


Farmers talking

 

When the going gets tough, the tough can't always get going

It's natural to feel stressed sometimes, especially:

  • in times of drought,
  • when the payout's less than you'd hoped, or
  • you're up to your elbows in mud and calves.

But when...

  • you're feeling sad all the time, or
  • you don't care if the Chiefs lose to the Blues, or
  • it's exhausting work just to pull on your gumboots in the morning,

...you're most likely experiencing unhealthy stress or depression.

Farmers talking

Tina Keeys and dog

"Fix the little things that annoy you or make life hard on the farm, even if it's just to repair a gate latch. You'll feel good at the end of the day because you've ticked that off and achieved something, and you’ll feel good every time you open that gate."
- Tina Keeys

" Most days I wake up at 2am and start thinking about all the things I have to do and all the decisions I have to make. If I get up and write my thoughts down I can go back to sleep, otherwise they just keep going round and round in my head."
- Tina Keeys
Support services available to the rural community
  • Make an appointment with your GP
  • Rural North Hauraki Mental Health & Addiction Services (DHB), phone 0800 08 03 39
  • Crisis Assessment and Treatment Service for emergency calls after hours, weekends and public holidays phone 0800 50 50 50
  • Waikato-Hauraki-Coromandel Rural Support Trust (farmer to farmer support), phone 0800 787 254, www.rural-support.org.nz
  • Need to talk? phone or text 1737 anytime day or night to talk with a trained health professional
  • Depression Line phone 0800 11 17 57, www.depression.org.nz
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797
  • Te Korowai Hauora O Hauraki - Hinengaro (Mental Health), phone 07 868 0033 www.korowai.co.nz

 

Other useful resources

Logos support

 

"I went to my doctor and he sent me to a counsellor. He was the best guy. It really helped to talk things through with him. I realised I was putting too much pressure on myself because I was worried about failing and what everyone else would think."
- Casey Coxhead
"There is life outside of the farm and you have to make sure you get off the farm and look outside the square. It's good to get out of your own little world. "
- Zhenya Coxhead

Coxhead family

"When my six year old daughter asked me why I was sad, that really rocked me. I’d always been such a happy person, but I was constantly unhappy."
- Casey Coxhead

Elephant in paddock