Welcome back, as always, it is such a pleasure to see you here!

It’s been a hot minute since we last dropped in with some words of wisdom and wonder from our corner of the ag sector.

If there’s one thing all of us at Drover Ag do daily its connect and communicate with people from all areas of Australian Agriculture. Given this fact, we feel it is prudent to weigh in on the current debate around recent social media challenges to promote mental health awareness. How this is relevant will become apparent as you read on.

Mental Health Challenges

Now it’s of no great surprise that mental health is rife in all sectors of Australian Agriculture. There are many well-founded studies to prove it and many more personal association cases to back up such a statement. We’re not doing to dig into the challenges surrounding mental health issues in this blog – we know it’s at the forefront of our minds these days anyway.

What we did want to talk about is all the ‘challenges’ going viral on social media at present. Challenges claiming to promote awareness around mental health. Now everybody probably has a viewpoint on this; whether it’s appropriate – or not – to use hard liquor and irresponsible drinking or a heap of pushups for ‘x’ number of days to support mental health awareness. There have even been new challenges posed with the intent to quash the not so favoured approach. Our question around all this debate would be…

How effective is any of this?

We’ve observed what feels like hundreds of arguments as to why this is effective i.e, “because the egg, spoonfuls of sugar etc. are hard to swallow – it stands as an analogy to talking about the subject”.  Then, the flip side, “alcohol and mental health don’t mix” or “what the heck does a push up have to do with it all”. These are both plausible and we respect the opinions. However, the stark reality is these are comfortable excuses or validations for one’s actions.

Now, please don’t get us wrong, to all who have completed a challenge we take our hats off to you. We appreciate that you have given a bloody big effort (or gag) at doing your bit and your intention was honest and well-meaning. That in itself is very brave and admirable. This point is also a good opportunity for us all to remember that we each can do the best we can with what we have. You taking part may also have been a door-opener, more than you think.

mental health in agriculture
Speaking Up

What we can clearly see though is that it has created is a great divide on the issue. There is now a community of folks popping up saying “its not enough, you need to speak up”.

And how fantastic, this is where we can see the magic beginning to happen. The necessary opening for the conversation is beginning to appear. Did we need to go through all the hardcore challenges? Likely not, but hey it had to start somewhere. For this, we should show our gratitude to those who have stepped up to the plate – or glass of raw egg.

Communication & connection builds community

We now have an opportunity to get clear on just what it does take to be effective when it comes to raising awareness around mental health. All the research is out there, tonnes of data to support it. All the personal stories shared to create awareness are also out there and what is the one thing they all point back to … communication & connection.

In a time of need what is really needed is connection. An opportunity to communicate without being judged, an empathetic shoulder to lean on. So many stories of mental health speak of the dire loneliness and feeling like there is nowhere to belong. This is when community is so vital in supporting the healing of people.

Share Your Stories

So how do we raise that awareness to create the opportunity for this to happen? We share our stories. Sounds almost too simple and for those of you with a story around mental health, it will be one of the toughest things you have ever done. Tougher than downing a raw egg and a shot of grog. We all have a story; some involve a specific mental health issue; for others, it was a time of struggle or low feeling. Regardless they all have a place. Get out there and share your story, your struggle, your demons.

By speaking up, you will be writing the permission slip for someone else

Maybe it’s a friend, family member or even stranger, but you will be opening the door for them to do the same, to reach out and share their story. Communication is the key, so get out there and start talking, share your story. Ask a mate how they are doing and be prepared to listen wholeheartedly, not just to them but for them. Get invested in your communication. Apply the same intent and level of commitment to the hard conversations that you applied to that online egg challenge for the world to see!

Make a stand and set the standard; don’t just be the standard.

Take care to all our Drover Ag community.