Farm Link: Improving the mental health and well-being of people who live and work on NSW farms

Meg Perceval, Jeffrey Fuller, Anne-Marie Holley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The Farm-Link Program is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Health and Ageing under the National Suicide Prevention Strategy and is coordinated by the University of Newcastle's Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health in collaboration with New South Wales (NSW) Health's Rural Area Mental Health Services and the NSW Farmers' Association. It was operational across NSW from July 2007 to December 2009 and is funded to continue in the New England region until June 2011. A major aim of the program was to improve access to and responsiveness of mental health services to the needs of people who live and work on farms. Frontline agricultural workers, who have a lot of contact with farmers and their families, received Mental Health First Aid training provided by Farm-Link staff. Across NSW, 220 participants received this training during 2008, and an additional 133 participants received training in the New England region throughout 2009-10. This training is still being delivered by Farm-Link in the New England region. Farmers' mental health networks were developed and expanded to engage both agricultural and mental health agencies, so that pathways to mental health care could be defined, described, and utilized. These networks were developed in selected sites across three rural area health services. By establishing the conditions for successful cross-agency networks to flourish in rural NSW, Farm-Link developed a credible reputation in target communities. An external evaluation, including comparative service network analysis, indicated that Farm-Link successfully identified and established mental health service development interventions in target communities. The evaluation identified a requirement for substantial change within a short-time frame as an inhibiting factor in Farm-Link 2007-09. Farm-Link's ongoing work indicates further time and continuity of service in rural communities has a positive impact on the depth of knowledge built and project aims being delivered. In addition, although documentation of referrals for farmers to various mental health service providers and general practitioners has occurred, more adequate systems need to be developed for the future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)88-110
    Number of pages23
    JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health
    Volume40
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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