ANIMAL health company Zoetis has hit its annual target, raising $100,000 to support the mental health challenges faced by people living in rural Australia.
Through its close partnership with Beyond Blue, the grand total has now reached $700,000 since the joint campaign started in 2016, as Zoetis continues to commit its support for the mental health organisation.
Zoetis achieved its goal by donating $5 from each sale of the company’s cattle, sheep, pig and poultry and goat vaccines and drenches. The funds have gone directly to the Beyond Blue Support Service to continue supporting people, including those living in remote areas, by providing free advice, counselling and referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thanks to Zoetis’ donations, more than 14,500 people have been able to get the support they need through the Beyond Blue service.
Zoetis senior vice president Lance Williams said it was an honour for the company to once again achieve its fundraising goal with Beyond Blue for the great initiative.
“At Zoetis we recognise the importance of improving mental health, reducing the stigma around mental health and tackling the tragedy of suicide, which disproportionately affect people in regional and rural areas.
“People living in rural areas face a number of challenges which can take a toll on their wellbeing, including disasters, economic change, isolation, limited access to services and most recently the pandemic. Together we have made strong progress in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of those who live in rural Australia, and we are passionate about continuing to help.”
Remoteness is a major risk factor contributing to suicide and the likelihood that someone will die by suicide appears to increase the further away from a city they live. Considering the vastness of Australia and the number of people who live in regional and rural areas, it’s a concerning fact that remoteness is a major risk factor contributing to mental health issues and suicide, with the suicide rates being 60 percent higher than rates in major cities. In addition, people in outer regional, remote or very remote areas of Australia face more barriers to accessing health care than people living in major cities, making it harder for them to maintain good mental health.
Beyond Blue Chief Community Officer Patrice O’Brien says demand for Beyond Blue’s support services increased 20 per cent during the pandemic and remains higher than pre-pandemic times.
“We know that people are doing it tough right now and ongoing impacts of the pandemic, cost of living pressure and extreme weather events will continue to affect people’s mental health,” she said.
”There are some indicators to look for if you think a family member, friend or colleague might need help.
Ms O’Brien said sadness and worry are normal human emotions and we all have our ups and downs.
“However, if the behaviour has been going on for two to three weeks, then a quiet conversation might help,” she said.
“Such behaviours might include a drop in their performance at work, they may be getting into conflicts, they might be withdrawn, not sleeping or there might be drug or alcohol use.”
Farmers wear ‘many hats’
Derek Schoen, Beyond Blue Board Director and beef, grain and hay producer in Corowa, New South Wales, said farmers have to wear many hats as part of their role.
“Modern farmers have to juggle multiple roles such as, production and HR management, you have to be a tech expert, and need to understand international markets, while also running the business. Adding to this is the additional stress of fire, drought, flooding and COVID- 19 related issues,” he said.
“People in rural Australia are known for their resilience in times of crisis, but even the most resilient among us need extra support at times. We want everyone to know that support is available and encourage people to seek advice. Asking for support is a sign of strength – not weakness.
“If you think someone needs your help, you don’t need to be a psychologist to ask someone how things are going and listen to their concerns. Your conversation can take place while you are doing something together, like driving or fixing something.
“Be prepared for the person to say they don’t wish to have a discussion, as many people in rural areas are self-reliant. However, if they do want to talk, you don’t have to be a psychologist; you don’t need to respond, just sit and listen and ask how you can help them.
“Having a conversation can make a huge difference to someone’s life.”
Zoetis and Beyond Blue’s mental health initiative shines a spotlight on the higher suicide risk posed to the farming community.
Ms O’Brien thanked Zoetis for its efforts in supporting this important cause. “We are honoured to receive such wonderful support each year with all funds raised going towards the Beyond Blue Support Service. As well as the importance of the funds raised, Zoetis’ support of Beyond Blue in rural and regional communities, ensures that more people in those communities are aware of our services being available to them, which is so important,” she said said.
Beyond Blue support service
The Beyond Blue Support Service offers free and immediate counselling, advice and referrals via phone, webchat or email. In addition to the support service, Beyond Blue has resources and information online at www.beyondblue.org.au, including Online Forums which offer peer support in a safe, moderated setting.
- For more information about depression and anxiety, visit www.beyondblue.org.au.
- To talk to a mental health professional for free, contact the 24/7 Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 22 46 36.
- Free web chat is also available 24/7 at beyondblue.org.au/getsupport and you can join the forums for free and download the BeyondNow app from the website.