Creating resilient communities

Rural Australians are known for their resilience in times of crisis, but even the most resilient need extra support at times, which is why animal health business Zoetis is raising funds for the Beyond Blue Support Service. Photo by Wavebreakmedia

Corowa’s Derek Schoen — a beef, grain and hay producer for more than 36 years — says even the most resilient people sometimes need support.

“The farming community has endured many challenges over the years,” Mr Schoen said.

“Through droughts, floods, bushfires and the ongoing COVID-19 related issues, rural Australia and country people are stoic and display considerable courage, however the impact on mental health has been significant for many.”

According to the National Rural Health Alliance, remoteness is a major risk factor contributing to mental health issues and suicide, with the suicide rates being 60 per cent higher than rates in major cities.

People in outer regional, remote or very remote areas of Australia also face more barriers to accessing health care than people living in major cities.

Recognising this, Mr Schoen, a Beyond Blue board member, is supporting an initiative between animal health business Zoetis and Beyond Blue to raise awareness of mental health in rural and regional Australia.

During the past six years, Zoetis has raised $600,000 for the Beyond Blue Support Service by donating $5 from each sale of the company’s livestock, pig and poultry vaccines and drenches.

Mr Schoen, who also sits on a number of regional boards and is a former deputy mayor of Corowa Shire Council, said with many farmers, small business owners, workers and parents feeling the pressure it was vital that people receive mental health support as early as possible to prevent their issues leading to more serious mental health conditions.

“The good news is that most of us will be able to cope very well with challenges as they arise — we will use our normal resources, our strengths, networks and the support that we have around us from family, friends and loved ones,” Mr Schoen 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.”

Beyond Blue’s Patrice O’Brien said the journey to better mental health could start with small actions such as setting goals for sleep, exercise and ’me‘ time, and maintaining social connections.

But she said the main thing was for people to know they were not alone and did not have to work things out on their own.

For more information about depression and anxiety, visit:

To talk to a mental health professional for free, contact the 24/7 Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 224 636.

People can support the Zoetis initiative until October 31. For every animal health product sold by Zoetis, they will donate $5, up to $100,000, to Beyond Blue.