Rural families urged to talk

South Canterbury's farming communities are being urged to look after each other as the dry conditions continue, causing stress levels to rise.

A range of industry experts say farming families should contact their neighbours regularly to talk and to check they are all right as the conditions persist, with little sign of reprieve.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers arable chairman Colin Hurst said neighbours had a key role to play during the farming industry's tough times.

''I suppose we're just mindful that if people are under stress, we need to be thinking of each other and look out for each other,'' he said.

''Some farmers will be under some quite significant stress.

''People need to be talking to their neighbours and talking to people in trouble, as they bottle it up. If [people] feel their neighbour is down a bit go and have a yarn and see what's going on.''

Talking about the situation was never easy, he said.

''It's always a tricky one.''

South Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman David Hewson also believed talking was vital.

Rural support trusts were established in the 1980s. The trusts help farmers and rural people cope with adverse weather events and their aftermath.

''As the pressure's gone on, we've been quite proactive ... [letting people know] that we are there,' Mr Hewson said.

He encouraged farmers to talk to each other, as well as to their bankers and accountants among other experts associated with their farms.

Rural Women New Zealand is also concerned for the mental wellbeing of farmers as the struggle with dry conditions continues, which can affect the entire family unit.

RWNZ president Wendy McGowan said women were often at the ''sharp end'' when mental illness struck.

''While they are seen as carers and nurturers they are not immune to stress and depression, but are most likely to put their own mental wellbeing on hold and `keep calm and carry on','' Mrs McGowan said.

by Alexia Johnston 

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