COVID-19 has had a significant impact on how we interact with others, go about our lives, our work, study and many other aspects of our lives. The combination of stress and uncertainty can have significant and wide-reaching impacts on the mental wellbeing of all people in New Zealand.
Information and tools to support your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 response are available on the Ministry of Health Website: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-general-public/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-resources.
Some of these tools are also valuable in everyday life when COVID is not around.
Keep yourself and your family safe
Anyone living or working in rural areas knows that life can be satisfying – but it can sometimes be stressful and often dangerous. Keeping yourself, your family and your friends physically, emotionally and mentally safe even during hard times and risky activities is really important. But how does anyone manage to cope when traumatic events happen?
The best way is to be kind on yourself and to try and build up and access support for you as an individual, a family and as a community.
Waikato DHB Mental Health and Addictions service are here to provide support and advice. Because Waikato is such a rural and farming region, our health professionals are very aware of the impact things like milk prices, seasonal pressures ( including the current difficulty of sufficient grass for the animals), the ongoing impacts of M-Bovis and other stock illness and weather patterns can have on the wellbeing of rural people.
Then there are physical dangers like accidents on rural roads, animal-related injuries, quad bike and forestry accidents, and falls. Here are some practical tips from our accident and trauma team, and some things to look out for from our mental health and addictions team.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF UNHEALTHY STRESS OR DEPRESSION?
- Having a low mood that you can’t seem to shake off.
- Having little or no interest in doing things that you used to enjoy.
- Being grumpy and irritable.
- Lack of energy and feeling tired most of the time.
- Changes in sleep and eating patterns.
- Problems with concentrating and staying focused.
- Low self-esteem and loss of libido.
- Feeling empty, lonely and isolated.
- Increased use of alcohol or other forms of self-medicating.
- Feeling embarrassed or ashamed about not being able to cope.
- Feeling overwhelmed by tasks/events/ expectations that normally would be easy to handle.
WHERE TO GET ADVICE AND SUPPORT
Asking for help is okay.
Get it off your chest.
Don’t under-estimate the willingness of family and friends to listen and provide support.
Share how you are feeling, physically and emotionally, with those you feel close to – but if this is difficult or you don’t feel any better talk to your GP. Your GP can provide a lot more than just pills and potions.
Many rural areas have a farmer-to-farmer networks and rural support trusts that can provide support.
- Rural Support Trust 0800 787 254
- Phone or Text 1737 – phone any time day or night and talk to a trained health professional
- Depression Helpline 0800 111 757
- Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797
- depression.org.nz (John Kirwan)
- mentalhealth.org.nz (Mental Health Foundation of NZ)
IN AN EMERGENCY, CALL 111
BE AWARE AND BE SAFE
- Fatigue causes accidents – early hours of the morning and middle of the afternoon are peak times for fatigue accidents.
- If you are over the legal alcohol limit late at night you may still be over when you drive to work in the morning.
- Use safety gear – and use it the way it was intended.
- Keep kids safe – farming equipment are tools not toys. Kids learn from watching so tell them about safety and practise what you preach.
- Keep your gear up to scratch with regular equipment checks and maintenance.
- Personal health checks and keeping yourself well and safe means you are around to care for others.
- Know your limits – injuries occur when boundaries are pushed.
- Make safety part of everything you do on your farm or around your rural property.