Survey assesses health of NZ's farming women

Gerard Vaughan.
Gerard Vaughan.
Farmstrong is asking farming women to complete a survey about their health and social connections to identify key wellbeing issues and provide information for research into possible tools and solutions to issues.

Farmstrong is a non-commercial initiative founded by rural insurer FMG and the Mental Health Foundation and provides programmes, advice and events that focus on farmers' health and wellbeing.

Project manager Gerard Vaughan said the survey had had more than 820 responses so far and would close in early June.

''We have had an amazing response,'' Mr Vaughan said.

Once all the responses were in, they would be analysed and a report released in July or August.

He said the survey was funded by Farmstrong's partner, ACC, and was released in partnership with farming women's groups and organisations including Dairy Women's Network, the Agri-Women's Development Trust, and Rural Women New Zealand, and through Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

He said Farmstrong's focus had initially been on men.

''Farming is made up of a range of demographics and now we are looking at farming women as they are pretty key to farming businesses.''

Once the information is in and results analysed, Farmstrong and its partners will hold ''solution-orientated discussions'' for some of the common issues and look at new collaboration opportunities.

He said ACC was interested in looking at the correlation between low wellbeing and accidents and injuries.

''Anecdotally there is a strong connection.''

The survey includes questions on social connections, social media and ordinary media use, situations, issues or activities that might have had a negative impact on the respondent's well-being, what had a positive impact, and contributors to injuries and accidents.

Mr Vaughan said they would then look at the key challenges and solutions.

''Women are change agents around this space.''

He said research had indicated women sometimes had slightly higher levels of anxiety and depression, although men were two and a-half to three times more likely to complete suicide, possibly because men were not as good at talking about what bothered them as women.

''Mental distress in men and women plays out in slightly different ways.''

The survey is available at

-By Yvonne O'Hara

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