A Stockinbingal farmer well known for his work to improve mental health in rural and remote Australia is the host of a new podcast series to be launched at Farmlink in Temora this evening.
John Harper established a grassroots self-help program, "Mate Helping Mate", more than 10 years ago to offer events and strategies specifically tailored for people in the bush.
The podcast, intended to promote mental wellbring and resilience, will features the stories of farmers, families and rural folk in remote and regional Australia, and their strategies to promote resilience.
Mr Harper, who has battled with "the black dog" himself, hopes to build confidence in encouraging others to reach out for help.
"Nearly everybody I know seems to be getting whacked around with their mental health in some way or another - but nobody's talking openly about it," Mr Harper said.
"It's time we have a yarn about how bloody tough it can be out in the bush and how we can help ourselves and our mates."
Over six episodes, Mr Harper speaks with rural people and qualified experts about the needs, services and strategies that are unique to improving mental wellbeing in remote communities.
Recorded on location across the outback, it features the distinct experiences and sounds of the bush.
The podcast comes as statistics show that suicide rates increase with remoteness, and that suicide rates in very remote areas of Australia are more than double those within our major cities.
Mate Helping Mate is supported by Gotcha4Life, a not-for-profit foundation started by Triple M's Gus Worland, and the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) through it's "Empowering our Communities" grant.
It was produced and recorded by Room3, a production company for not-for-profits and social enterprise.
Gotcha4Life founder Gus Worland said "Someone once said bad things can happen when good people do nothing - thank god we have John doing something.
"When I met John in 2016, we realised we were both trying to help mates and that a lot of suffering and misery could be avoided.
"Rural Outreach Counselling and this podcast are fantastic resources that promote the concept of mental fitness - building resilience in rural communities by developing the social connections and emotional muscle required to deal with the challenges that life throws at us all.
Murrumbidgee Public Health Network CEO Melissa Neal said she was pleased to be supporting the Mate Helping Mate podcast with the provision of a Murrumbidgee Community Grant.
"We know that sharing stories can be a powerful source of change for people living with a mental health issues. John's relatable personality and straightforward approach will resonate with listeners."
The series can be heard by listening at matehelpingmate.org.au, with a smart phone via spotify, apple podcasts or picture radio and with Android through google podcast.
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