Accountants are often on the front line in identifying the stresses and strains felt by farmers and rural businesses.
In February, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) launched a series of workshops to be held throughout New Zealand to help its rural members recognise, and support, the mental health challenges faced by their clients.
The first GoodYarn Workshops were held in Hamilton (13 February) and Hastings (14 February).
A combination of challenges of working on the land, ongoing technological changes and having little control over events such as droughts makes farming one of the country’s most stressful occupations. However, research shows people living in rural areas visit mental health specialists less often than their urban counterparts.
“Rural Chartered Accountants have very close relationships – sometimes friendships – with their clients, often spanning generations of farmers,” says Neal McDiarmid, CA ANZ Regional Manager for Central North Island. “Many have come from farming backgrounds and have a solid knowledge of farming.
“The level of trust is high, which places CAs in a unique position to spot changes in behaviour that makes them think ‘something is not right here and I need to take action’.
“Our workshops will give them confidence and knowledge on how to handle these situations appropriately.”
CA ANZ is working with primary health organisation WellSouth to train GoodYarn workshop facilitators who are respected rural-based CA ANZ members who understand the stresses and pressures faced by farming communities.
GoodYarn is an award-winning programme developed by WellSouth and DairyNZ for farming communities. More than 300 GoodYarn workshops have been held throughout the country to date with more than 3800 people taking part.
Like other GoodYarn workshops, they will include advice on how to recognise the signs of stress and common mental health problems, practical tools to help CA ANZ members start a conversation when they’re concerned about someone and how to access the right support services.
The CA ANZ workshops will also teach members how to look after their own wellbeing.
“It’s great to see corporate and social responsibility brought together through organisations like Chartered Accountants ANZ providing GoodYarn workshops to their members,” says Louise Thompson, Programme Manager, WellSouth.
CA ANZ is also planning to run wellbeing workshops for its urban members.
The activities are part of the organisation’s CA Wellbeing initiative which aims to support the mental wellbeing of members and provide them with knowledge and confidence to manage mental health challenges faced by their clients.
Read about our CA Wellbeing programme which provides resources and information to support mental health and wellbeing of members.Read more