South Island rural professionals and others servicing the rural community are invited to an Agri Connect seminar aimed at equipping them with the tools they need to help farmers struggling with stress.
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Media personality Matt Chisholm will be a guest speaker at the Agri Connect rural mental health wellness seminar.

Organised and facilitated in conjunction with Whatever with Wiggy and Farming Families4u, the Agri Connect seminar to be held in Ashburton is for all those people servicing the agricultural industry and working within rural communities.

“As a rural representative you may be the first to recognise when a client or colleague needs support,” Craig “Wiggy” Wiggins said.

“Come along to learn the tools and strategies for dealing with mental health issues and meet people and agencies committed to improving mental wellness.”

The Canterbury-based rural advocate was inspired to organise the seminar after being approached by several rural professionals.

“Recently I have been approached by a few farm service providers and rural professionals, such as environmental advisors, stating their staff are regularly finding farmers who want to discuss their mental state of mind,” he said.

“Some are very emotional.

“The people I have spoken to have realised that they are dealing with a turning point in a client’s life, a cry for help or desperate plea to relieve the pressure.”

Wiggy says this is not every farmer, but increased pressures of freshwater legislation, winter grazing regulations, farm succession planning, financial pressures, staffing issues and their own physical health is taking a toll on many.

More are opening up to those they trust.

“The professionals that have approached me feel they are untrained and nervous about the situation they find themselves in and don’t know how to get out of the professional space and into a personal space with their clients,” he said.

“Is what they are seeing serious and what, and where do they go for help?”

One farm consultant reported having six clients in the course of two months, declaring they had had enough and asking for their farm to be leased out.

To support and educate rural service people that are the link to the rural community, the seminar will provide information on what to look for, what questions to ask and where to direct farmers for assistance.

Guest speakers, media personality Matt Chisholm and Lumsden dairy farmer Jason Herrick, will kick off the morning as they share their experiences and struggles with mental health.

Several primary health representatives will address the seminar, including specialist suicide prevention counsellor Pup Chamberlain.

A wellbeing coach, human resources and staff recruitment companies are also among the line-up of speakers.

“We want this to be interactive so there will be a good opportunity for two-way conversation from the floor,” Chamberlain said.

“This is open to anyone who has a connection with farmers and rural communities, and we hope to see famers there too,” Wiggy said.

The seminar will be held at the Ashburton Raceway on May 25, from 10am-3pm. There will be a $10 cover charge for lunch.

To register for the seminar email

Suffering from depression or stress, or know someone who is? Where to get help:



LIFELINE: 0800 543 354

NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737

SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666

YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

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