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Rural mental health a focus of Fieldays 2021

Rural mental health is a focus at this year's Fieldays, with a team from Rural Support Hub on-site as part of the Health and Wellbeing Hub

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Health and wellbeing have a fresh focus at this year’s National Agricultural Fieldays®, with a revamped Health and Wellbing Hub housing a number of organisations offering free health check-ups and advice to visitors.

While Fieldays is well-known for showcasing cutting-edge innovation and connecting rural communities locally and globally, it is also recognised for spreading the word on rural health and wellness.

The Health and Wellbeing Hub is run in collaboration with Mobile Health, which provides elective day surgery for patients in rural New Zealand and supports the rural health workforce.

Rural mental health is also at the forefront of support again this year in the Hub. Wanda Leadbeater from the Rural Support Trust, a staple exhibitor in the Hub, says there are lots of stressors affecting farmers and growers that are completely out of their control, which is hard on their mental health as a result.

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“Pressures on farmers and growers, such as the weather or changes in the market, can often mean they work longer hours or suffer detrimental financial consequences. They are great at looking after their stock and crops, but sometimes they don’t remember to look after themselves.”

Wanda’s advice to farmers and growers who are struggling with their mental health is to “talk, talk, and talk some more!”

“Reach out to others, whether it be friends, family, or someone at Rural Support. You are the most important asset in your business – take the time to look after yourself and asking for help is not a weakness if things are getting tough.”

Also in this year’s Hub twill be organisations covering all facets of health and wellbeing, with an abundance of health check-ups on offer that could easily cover the cost of the Fieldays ticket. From hearing checks, blood sugar level testing, and hepatitis C testing, to skin cancer spot checks, blood pressure checks, atrial fibrillation checks, and confidential mental health support, there’s lots on offer.

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Mobile Health CEO Mark Eager said the initial idea behind the Hub was to build a “health centre of the future,” and provide an interactive platform that farmers and growers can resonate with.

“With the Health and Wellbeing Hub, since we do things a bit differently, we get engagement from people that don’t usually receive health care.

“In 2019, we’d see women walking into the Hub with purpose, spending awhile inside looking around. Later, you’d see them return with their husbands pulled along by the ear to get a check-up.”

The staggering 25,000 people coming through the Health and Wellbeing Hub at Fieldays 2019 spoke volumes on the importance of having a positive platform to engage and inform people about their physical and mental health.

Eleven malignant melanomas were detected in the Hub in 2019, and one woman discovered she had type 1 diabetes – both were serious conditions that were caught at the right time.

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