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Farmer stories Talking Dairy podcast 55 Talking Dairy podcast 51 Talking Dairy podcast 33 Talking Dairy podcast 26

Farming, particularly in the dairy sector, can be a demanding and stressful job. This page provides guidance on looking after your mental and physical health to perform at your best. It teaches you how to recognise the signs of illness and burnout, and offers practical advice on staying well. Honest stories from farmers who have experienced mental health struggles, as well as podcasts addressing specific concerns for both men and women in the sector, are shared to offer support and understanding. If you're feeling overwhelmed, the page also highlights where to find professional help.

Learn how to look after your health, so you can enjoy what you do and perform at your best.

Farming can be an amazing job – but it can also be stressful and demanding. Discover how to spot the signs of illness, how to stay well, and where to find help when it's needed.

Farmer stories

Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen has learned from experience about the importance of looking after his mental health. Sam shares his story and his tips for maintaining wellbeing.

Dairy farmer Dylan Ditchfield reflects on what got him through his personal challenge with depression.

Dairy farmer Sam Spencer-Bower hopes his mental health story will encourage others struggling with depression to speak up and ask for help.

Talking Dairy podcast 55: Striking the balance - mental health and wellbeing

Our guests Matte Kirk and Kelly Dickey share their thoughts on mental wellness in the rural sector. Are farmers getting better at talking about how they’re feeling? Why is getting off the farm so important? How do Matte (former dairy farmer, Pioneer area manager) and Kelly (sharemilker, Rural Support Trust facilitator) stay in top form? The pair also talk about the great work of Surfing For Farmers, which they both help to run in Raglan, on Waikato's west coast.

Listen on:

Talking Dairy podcast 51: Mental health: 'Don't be afraid to open up'

Overwhelmed by workload pressure, self-doubt and a fear of what others expected of him, fifth-generation farmer Sam Spencer-Bower stopped being able to function. It took six months before his wife – and Sir John Kirwan – helped convince him to get help. Sam joins us to share his mental health journey: the underlying causes, learning to talk about it, and the skills he’s developed to cope with the stresses of the job.

Listen on:

Talking Dairy podcast 33: Tools for coping with farm stress

Taranaki dairy farmer Kane Brisco nearly walked away from farming, worn down by the constant physical and mental strains of the job. But at his lowest, he started figuring out practical ways to cope with stress and recharge his passion for life on the land. In this episode, Kane shares the tools he’s developed – ranging from breathwork to boxing – to operate at his best.

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Talking Dairy podcast 26: Rural women are struggling too

Stress, depression, anxiety, fatigue and other wellbeing issues are a growing concern in the rural sector. Often, the conversations we have about it are focused on men. But what about rural women? They make up half of our sector, so why aren’t we talking much about their wellbeing too? Is it because we think they’re generally doing pretty well in this area? Dairy farmer and leadership coach Loshni Manikam says that’s not the case – many rural women are indeed struggling. So, what kinds of challenges are women facing, why don’t we hear much about it, and how does it affect us all?

Listen on:

Emergency contacts

Samaritans: 0800 726 666
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757
Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254
1737 Need to Talk?:  free call or text for free 24 hours a day to talk to (or text with) a trained counsellor or a peer support worker

Stay well

For advice specifically for farmers on how to stay in the best shape mentally and physically, check out farmstrong.co.nz

Get in touch

If you'd like to contact us about Dairy Connect please email dairy.connect@dairynz.co.nz or alternatively contact your DairyNZ regional team member.

Last updated: Aug 2023

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