TALKING MENTAL HEALTH: Warren Davies and Neil Mungall are helping to break the stigma of mental health among farmers.
TALKING MENTAL HEALTH: Warren Davies and Neil Mungall are helping to break the stigma of mental health among farmers. Claudia Williams

Farmer driving mental health conversation in ag industry

AS A dairy farmer of more than 20 years, Warren Davies knows firsthand the ups and downs farmers face, whether it be due to drought, flood or a family bust-up.

When drought forced him to walk off his Victorian farm, he said he lost part of his identity, and that's when he realised he needed to reach out for help to address his mental health challenges.

"I was a bloke and a farmer so reaching out and asking for help is not the first thing you think of," Mr Davies said.

"If you get caught up in that spiral, all of a sudden the spiral is getting quicker before you realise it."

Today, Mr Davies travels across the country as the Unbreakable Farmer, speaking with people in the agricultural industry to help start the mental health conversation and inspire others to reach out.

"Everyone has got a story, everyone is on their own journey," he said.

"Mine is not unique but hopefully I can make a difference sharing mine by enabling other people to share theirs.

"There are a lot of mental health issues out there but the stigma is still great enough that a lot of people don't talk about it until it is too late and it leaves people wondering why there has been a suicide in the local community."

Agronomists who work on farms across the South Burnett heard Mr Davies speak in Kingaroy on Thursday.

Neil Mungall from Northern AgriServices said it was important for them to not only check in with themselves, but to recognise others who may need help.

"We have agronomists around on farms all the time so they are dealing with farmers day-to-day and if it helps our guys to identify whether farmers are doing it tough and if it is something they they can pick up early and help that farmer, that is a win for us," Mr Mungall said.

Mr Davies said that while talking about emotions could be tough, especially for a farmer like himself, helping start the mental health conversation among the broader farming community proved rewarding for him.

"The important thing is opening up those conversations and communication is key," he said.

South Burnett

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