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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Keeping pumped under the pump

Keeping pumped under the pump
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New Zealand

Farmers have been making good use of the Mental Health Foundation's Farmstrong programme to help keep themselves mentally well during a particularly difficult period, project manager Gerard Vaughan says.

The Farmstrong website, launched in June last year, provides tools and resources to help farmers manage fatigue, deal with pressure, and maintain a healthy lifestyle so they can combat mental ill health. Over the first nine months the site had more than 35,000 individual visitors, of whom 55% were men and 20% visited more than once. The most visited postings have been those on how to stay positive, how to get time off the farm, and how to deal with sleep and fatigue.

Vaughan is happy with the figures and the gender split. "Women tend to be the ones looking for wellbeing information, so it's good to see we've got the tone right."

Not all Farmstrong's initiatives are computer-based. A competitive fitness challenge, in which teams count the kilometres that they walk, run or cycle, has so far attracted 90 teams, totalling more than 750 people, while a series of two-hour Healthy Thinking workshops attracted almost 700 attendees. Nine two-day workshops have been run around the country for people who had made a commitment to share their healthy thinking knowledge with at least 10 other farmers.

"One of the things we have learnt is that farmers take notice of what other farmers tell them, so we phoned around, looking for people who had credibility and good networks to become our ambassadors."

According to a recent survey the 160 people who took part in the original workshops have now shared the message with more 2500 others.

This year Farmstrong is collecting farmers' stories about the things that they find helpful. One farmer Vaughan spoke to said he was under the pump and didn't think he'd have any stories to share. "He actually had some great stories about what he does, like stopping and listening for the birds when he's out fencing. Those are the sort of things that do help - even when you are under the pump."

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Gerard Vaughan
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From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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