Country News

Ex-farmer shares his mental health journey

By Jamie Salter

When Warren Davies from Kyabram lost his farm in the millennial drought he thought his identity had disappeared with it.

Mr Davies had always been a farmer, buying his first farm at just 22 years of age.

He had faced many of the struggles of farming, including low commodity prices, drought and floods — ultimately losing his farm.

His feeling of failure led to anxiety and depression, and he said he entered a dark place before picking up strategies to turn his life around.

Mr Davies had to reinvent himself and find a new purpose in life and, through this, the 'Unbreakable Farmer’ was born.

Warren Davies from Kyabram has become the 'Unbreakable Farmer’.

He now shares his battle with mental health with other people across Australia. Last week he spoke at Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE in Shepparton, as an ambassador for the Love Me Love You mental health foundation.

Mr Davies said it was his passion to create awareness for mental health in rural communities.

“My mission is to inspire conversations about mental illness and, in particular, suicide — it's not something that's widely talked about.

“The stigma has been reduced but there's still stigma there.

“Hopefully sharing my story creates a safe environment to inspire those conversations and also enable people to feel safe to reach out for help.”

Mr Davies said mental health was an issue in rural communities due to a lack of services when compared to metropolitan areas.

“If the services aren't on the ground there can be a lag time between a point when you need some help and the time when you're able to be seen by a doctor or mental health worker,” he said.

Regional populations are particularly at risk as a result of their isolation and stretched services.

Mr Davies aims to be the bridge between when people seek help and when they receive it to inspire them to keep going.

When asked what the average person can do to help, he said it was as simple as a conversation.

“Looking out for those around you in your community; I always say one of the most important skills to have is to listen to what's on someone's mind."

GOTAFE director of student success Nicky Van der Bergh said the seminar was about teaching students how to be resilient and recover from tough times.

“It's to build awareness and educate students to manage all aspects of their lives by learning holistic skills,” Mr Van der Bergh said.

GOTAFE director of student success Nicky Van der Bergh

He said the GOTAFE community aimed to build students’ personal development and wellbeing, and that Love Me Love You was one of the organisations that reached this goal through relatable conversations.

If this story has raised issues for you, phone Lifeline on 131 114.