By Angus Kebbell
This week we are talking to Felicity (Fliss) Clark, a unique and talented person doing fantastic work in her community.
She has had her own challenging experiences in life; she suffered post-traumatic stress from her childhood, and she lost her toddler to leukemia.
She now dedicates her time to helping others improve their wellbeing. Her rural gym is a safe environment where rural woman can come together and focus on issues that matter to them. This proved to be vital after the COVID-19 lockdown. On-farm stress levels went up a gear during this time - not that they were low before with M.Bovis, and drought.
Her unique fitness gym became a focal point in her community with membership rising. She is now a facilitator with the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust addressing the mental health needs of farmers.
“Because I’ve been there myself and I know what it’s like, I suppose I’m more attuned to the signs that someone is struggling. Farming can be stressful and because there is still such a stigma attached to mental health issues it can be hard to break down those barriers, but I can’t say no to helping people, it’s just something I’ve done for the 30 years I’ve lived in this area. Just like a healthy mind needs a healthy body, a healthy body also needs and deserves a healthy mind too.”
COVID might have been on top on M.Bovis, and drought, but now a new farming stress is imminent - the changes driven by the Climate Change Commission.
Farmers want this process to be collaborative, but the signs are more like a top-down imposition, one that appears to ignore or devalue the progress already made. It has already raised anxiety levels, and farmers are desperate to see and buy into a pathway that won't wreck either their business or their own wellbeing.
In the coming weeks I will delve into the Climate Change Commission report, and I will be talking with farmers, farming groups and indeed government agencies to discuss what is looking like not only our farmers' greatest challenge in a lifetime, but indeed for New Zealand as a whole.
Listen to the podcast for the full interview with Felicity Clark.
Angus Kebbell is the Producer at Tailwind Media. You can contact him here.