Newswise — Drought, fires, floods, and now potential disease – in the past few years Aussie farmers have been hit hard from all sides. But amid the turmoil, many farmers have engaged the support of ifarmwell – an online resource that provides free support to help farmers cope with stress and uncertainty of life on the land.
Today, the creator of ifarmwell, UniSA’s Dr Kate Gunn, is being recognised for her substantial work in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of farmers as she receives a national award for Excellence in Agricultural Research as part of the Australian Farmer of the Year awards.
The award follows another national accolade – the National LiFE Award for Innovation from Suicide Prevention Australia – presented to Dr Gunn earlier this week in recognition of the vital support that ifarmwell is providing to Australian farmers and rural communities.
In Australia, farmers are twice as likely to die from suicide than other employed people.
ifarmwell has been designed by Australian farmers for Australian farmers. Based on over 10 years’ research, it builds on farmers’ strengths, beliefs, and preferences, so that health and wellbeing strategies are meaningful, and more likely be adopted in the real world.
Dr Gunn says working with and helping rural communities is close to her heart.
“Having grown up on a farm, I’ve seen firsthand how poor mental health and wellbeing can affect close-knit communities,” Dr Gunn says.
“Living on the land can be wonderful. But it can also be isolating and challenging.
“ifarmwell has been designed in partnership with farmers. It takes in their unique skills, beliefs, and strengths, and helps them build a range of practical strategies that can help them manage life’s ups and downs.
“We know that farmers are great practical problem solvers. Through ifarmwell, we’re providing manageable and relatable tools to help farmers increase their ability to cope effectively with the things they cannot control or fix.
“It is very exciting to me that the importance of farmers’ mental health and wellbeing has been recognised nationally in these ways. I also hope that these awards serve as a helpful reminder to farmers that we all need to deliberately invest time in maintaining and improving our own well-being; ifarmwell is freely available to help them do that.”
The national awards are timely ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday 10 September.