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ifarmwell
 

ifarmwell

Farmers are at great risk of suicide. They die of suicide at 1.6 times the rate of the general population, twice the rate of other employed people and they are half as likely to have seen a GP in the last six months than their non-farming rural counterparts. Not only do they have reduced access to professional mental health support due to geographic isolation, they are often also reluctant to seek out these services for a variety of reasons, including stoicism, stigma, inability to leave the farm and concerns about privacy.

ifarmwell is a collaboration between experts at the University of South Australia’s Department of Rural Health (within UniSA Allied Health & Human Performance), Freemasons Centre for Male Health & Wellbeing, the National Centre for Farmer Health, The University of Adelaide and the University of Melbourne.

The project leader is Dr Kate Gunn who grew up on a South Australian farm (near Streaky Bay), is a Clinical Psychologist, and has been researching farmers’ wellbeing for more than 10 years. She has been supported in her role establishing and managing the ifarmwell team over the past five years, by Professor Deborah Turnbull, Associate Professor Jim Dollman, Professor Susan Brumby, Dr Andrew Vincent, Dr Camille Short and Dr Gemma Skaczkowski. Together with farmers from across Australia, the ifarmwell team have developed an operational online resource that based in evidence and has been shown to be acceptable to farmers.

 
  • Created with farmers, for farmers
  • Evidence-based on proven psychological therapy
  • Accessible from a computer, tablet or smartphone
  • Relevant, confidential, free.

This project’s mission is to equip farming families and their supporters (e.g. agronomists) with tools that prevent or reduce the negative impact that stressful situations like drought have on their lives, so they can make better decisions and have more time and energy to focus on the things that make them feel fulfilled and happy.


www.ifarmwell.com.au is a new, interactive, farmer-driven, self-help website, designed to provide Australian farming families with practical strategies to strengthen their own mental wellbeing and better manage future challenges.


Ifarmwell guides farmers through five evidence-based online modules containing an engaging blend of reading, interactive exercises, questions and videos that teach transferable coping skills and provide farmers with feedback on their current wellbeing levels, practical tips on issues they are struggling with (e.g. sleep), and guidance on seeking professional mental health help if needed. Users receive personalised (automated) text messages and emails between modules to remind them to build their new tools in to their lives. A rigorous evaluation of 60 users found that pre-to-post program, ifarmwell users’ distress decreased and mental wellbeing increased, and these changes were maintained for after six months post module completion. This decrease in distress was greater for individuals entering the program with higher distress.


Ifarmwell is also highly valued by farmers and industry partners because it was created with farmers, for farmers, is confidential, relevant, accessible and free. Testimonials indicate that it is also considered meaningful, giving users hope, distance from overwhelming thoughts and feelings and strategies to live consistently with their values, despite the challenging circumstances they may face.

 

Ifarmwell is currently available across Australia, but could potentially be made available internationally due to the lack of a similar resource anywhere in the world. More than 300,000 people are directly employed in agriculture in Australia.

Kate Gunn

Kate Gunn
Founder

emma.dignon@unisa.edu.au

0417 080 705

South Australian Government

University of South Australia