Greytown dairy farmer Rachel Gardner is encouraging other young people to talk about mental health.

The South Wairarapa Young Farmers member was one of 14 people who took part in a Good Yarn workshop in Carterton.

The free event was organised by NZ Young Farmers.

“The workshop was really informative and a great way to develop new skills,” said the 24-year-old, who contract milks 650 cows.

“I now have the confidence to recognise signs of stress or mental illness in those around me and how to approach the issue.”

Good Yarn workshops have been developed for farmers and rural professionals.

They equip people with the tools to recognise if a family member, farming colleague or customer is struggling and where to seek support.

“It was a really good workshop. The group was open to sharing their experiences, which generated some great discussion,” said Megan Bates from NZ Young Farmers.

“That’s the beauty of these sessions, they’re small so people often feel more comfortable giving everything a go.”

Adverse weather events, animal health problems and relationship issues can all have a negative impact on a person’s ability to cope and make good decisions.

People who aren’t coping may lose interest in activities, struggle with daily challenges and their personality may change.

“All of those signs can vary in severity, but if you’re worried, encourage that person to seek professional support,” said Megan.

“The key thing is that you don’t need to be an expert on mental health to have a chat to someone about it.”

The workshops also teach participants how to look after themselves.

“It was great for learning tips to improve your own mental health during times of stress,” said Rachel.

International research has found that people who thrive have five things in common.

They feel connected with others, give regularly, keep learning, are physically active and enjoy the simple things in life.

“That’s why belonging to a NZ Young Farmers club can be really beneficial for young people, especially if they work on a farm alone,” said Megan.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of almost 80 clubs across the country, which hold meetings, social events and competitions.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week which is an annual event run by the Mental Health Foundation.

Where to get help:
Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Source: The County

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