10 Apr 2014

Farmer speaks out on depression

2:23 pm on 10 April 2014

A Marlborough-based farmer, who suffered from but overcame depression, says it was a prolonged drought and the ensuing economic meltdown that left his head in a black space.

Sheep and beef farmer Doug Avery is one of several rural men to get involved in the National Depression Initiative, fronted by Sir John Kirwan.

It features a website that has been expanded to include rural voices.

Mr Avery says he was about 40 years old when he found himself in a vicious circle, isolating himself and feeling like he was losing his mind.

He says there will be people in rural sectors feeling this way.

Research shows that suicide rates by men amongst rural communities are higher than in urban areas by up to 67 percent.

Mr Avery did and continues to practise the programme on depression-dot-org-dot-nz.

He says before then, he hated life every minute of the day, and farmers going through bad times need to be prepared to speak up and get help.

He credits talking about his problems with depression through the website to saving his life.

The Rural Health Alliance has welcomed the inclusion of rural voices on the depression website.

The alliance, which incorporates 21 organisations, says mental health is one of the key issues it will be focusing on over the next three years.