Understanding and addressing psychological distress experienced by farmers, from the perspective of rural financial counsellors

Understanding and addressing psychological distress experienced by farmers, from the perspective of rural financial counsellors Journal Article

Australian Journal of Rural Health

  • Author(s): Gunn, Kate M., Hughes-Barton, Donna
  • Published: 2021
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
  • ISBN: 1038-5282

Abstract: Objective To explore rural financial counsellors' experiences interacting with psychologically distressed farmers and identify contextually appropriate methods to maintain their own well-being and link farmers to psychological supports, within their existing roles. Setting Rural, regional and remote Australia. Participants Fifty rural financial counsellors participated. They worked across 6 Australian states/territories. Design Individual semi-structured telephone interviews were audio-recorded with consent. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis. Themes were identified using an essentialist, bottom-up approach. Results Forty-six themes emerged relating to the 5 topics explored: (a) how to recognise distress in farmers (eg inability to focus/make decisions, deterioration in presentation/organisation, anger, blaming); (b) impact of farmers' psychological distress on the financial case management process (eg slows, disrupts or stops it, negatively impacts counsellor well-being); (c) strategies for working effectively with distressed farmers (eg flexibility, open-ended questions, listening to story, simplicity, instilling hope); (d) referral of distressed farmers to psychological support (eg willing if tried themselves/positive reports, lack of local rural face-to-face services, stigma and lack of understanding of importance challenging, a farming focus and support from family/ community assists); and (e) strategies to maintain their own well-being (eg compartmentalising, exercise, supervision). Conclusion Rural financial counsellors play an important role by recognising signs of distress in farmers and referring them to appropriate psychological supports. However, this is a demanding role and ensuring counsellors have appropriate services to refer farmers to, and support with their own well-being, is imperative.

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Suggested Citation
Gunn, Kate M., Hughes-Barton, Donna, 2021, Understanding and addressing psychological distress experienced by farmers, from the perspective of rural financial counsellors, Journal Article, viewed 15 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=27864.

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