Meet our evokeAG. 2020 Future Young Leaders – Dr Caitlin Vayro - evokeAG.

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Meet our evokeAG. 2020 Future Young Leaders – Dr Caitlin Vayro

Meet our evokeAG. 2020 Future Young Leaders – Dr Caitlin Vayro

26-year-old Caitlin Vayro is on a mission to reduce the rate of suicide amongst our farmers. The Queensland-based mental health advocate, and Doctor of Philosophy, will take to the stage at evokeAG. 2020 and share her knowledge on how to keep our producers as happy and healthy as possible.

What’s the one message you hope to instil with delegates at evokeAG. 2020?

We can all play a role in supporting and encouraging farmers to access mental health services. This is particularly important now, with the terribly dry conditions out there; it’s an added strain to an already stressful job.

Can you tell us more about your PhD?

I have an interest in how our work affects our health. I am particularly passionate about rural mental health and wellbeing. This passion culminated in my largest project to date which was exploring the factors that impact primary producer’s mental health help-seeking. I completed my PhD two weeks ago and I uncovered a number of findings. It’s complex but there are some key reasons that prevent farmers from accessing mental health support. One of them is the perspective of mental health. We all have mental health and we need to be open-minded about this. Also, we need to be able to better recognise good and poor mental health. Another hindrance is the lack of mental health providers, just 5 per 100,000 people in remote areas. This makes it hard to be comfortable with these providers, another key reason producers find it hard to seek help.

You mentioned that farmer’s partners play a key role in mental health help-seeking. Can you elaborate?

A lot of interviews I conducted revealed that farmer’s partners can have a crucial role in getting the right help; as long as it’s done tactfully! They often make the first phone call to the mental health provider and make the appointment. This first step goes a long way. However, there are other key stakeholders that can help too including agronomists, accountants, bank staff and others in regular contact with farmers. If they know the practical strategies then this will go a long way. By educating stakeholders they then may be able to prompt and encourage farmers to seek help, which in turn can help manage distress.

What are your future aspirations for our agricultural industry?

My future aspirations for the agricultural sector are to reduce the heightened risk of suicide in primary producers. The statistics demonstrate that farmers’ risk of suicide is between 1.6 – 2 times that of the general population. Through my research, there is now a greater knowledge of what contributes to farmers’ decisions (not) to seek help. While these things may not be easily changed, the new knowledge does create new opportunities. I want to share my knowledge to keep primary producers as happy and healthy as possible.

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