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Can we make stone soup for rural wellbeing

Author: Michelle Stevens

Organisation: Kelloggs Rural Leadership Programme

Published: 2019

Country: New Zealand

Research type: Case study

Mental health and wellbeing is a wicked problem for New Zealand.  This report serves to explore if there is sufficient interest within the agricultural sector to pursue a working arrangement, commercial interest’s aside, in collaborating for the betterment of rural wellbeing.

Twenty three interviews were conducted with employees of organisations that have either a retail store presence, mobile employees visiting farmers and growers, or provide membership or professional services to the rural sector.  The discussions identified that the sector is acutely aware of an increasingly poor state of mental wellbeing within our rural communities, and acknowledges this is a growing concern.

Many within the sector are working individually to make a difference by way of providing educational opportunities for their staff and customers, introduction to wellbeing training programmes, providing links to various mental health and wellbeing online resources and inviting different speakers to events and workshops.

By taking a collaborative approach the sector could improve wellbeing within our rural communities.  Working in unison to simplify, standardise and share scientifically proven advice and techniques which are effective for self-wellbeing management, would achieve a much better result.

Farmstrong, as a reputable and established rural wellbeing programme, is proposed as the unifying force bringing the sector together for the purpose of promoting wellbeing in our rural communities.

The main recommendation from this study is that the agricultural sector should unite to agree a framework of working together, with Farmstrong, to effect social change.

Actions resulting from the recommendations include connecting to cement commitment, collating and connecting key contacts, and a program of continuous coaching for regional champions.