Defining mental health has never been an easy task, and having an everyday conversation about it has been just as tough, but Darling Downs private consultant Mary O’Brien, Dalby, has used the analogy of being bogged to open up a conversation about men’s mental health struggles in rural areas.
Writing the article for The Australian Cotton Grower magazine, Mary said Are you bogged mate? goes to bat for rural men who seem wholly misunderstood.
“We're losing rural men every year, but in recent months we've lost a few on the Downs that has just hit a little bit too close to home for me,” she said.
“Part of what I've been doing is help those guys left behind, and in my effort to try and educate myself on this topic about how I could best help the guys who were grieving, I did a lot of reading.
“All the literature was saying all those things like rural men don't express their feelings, they don’t open up and talk.
“I really felt there was a complete lack of understanding about how these blokes tick, so I felt like I needed to go to bat for them.”
Though she didn’t intend for it to become a campaign about rural men’s mental health, the article has gone viral since Mary shared it on Facebook and Twitter on February 15 and she said it’s humbling to know that it has struck a cord with people.
“It certainly wasn't intended as a campaign of any sort, it was probably more me letting off steam and trying to defend rural men,” she said.
“I guess the article does sort of focus on farmers a bit, but it was really written with all rural men in mind.
“Doesn't matter whether they're shearers, contract harvesters, pilots, truckies, agronomists, machinery dealers or whoever, I think they all tend to fit into that mold.
“It's probably a gross stereotype of rural men, but I think a majority of them fall into that category, and certainly based on the feedback it's struck a cord with a lot of them.”
Campaigns from organisations like the Black Dog Institute and Beyond Blue aimed at this demographic have been running for years, and yet it seems the message just isn’t getting through.
Mary said if looking at it in this way and starting a different conversation saves one life, then that's a good thing.
“If it makes someone think, or someone recognise someone who is bogged, that's a positive.
“We have all been bogged at some point. It might have been just a sticky patch of the road or paddock where the vehicle stopped moving, you panicked, threw it into four-wheel drive and got out.
“Maybe you needed low range, maybe you had to winch yourself out, but you got out, you got through it.
“But what happens when you get properly bogged? When it’s down to the running boards, sitting on the chassis, you are not getting out of this one easily – that’s the kind of bogged I mean.
“So what do you do? Do you burn the vehicle? Hell no!”
I do care about things apart from spray drift & this is one of them.— Mary O'Brien (@spraydriftgirl) February 15, 2018
HUGE thanks to all those who sent me bogged pics! Legends!!
If you are there for your mates if they get bogged, tweet using #areyouboggedmate & let's skin the black dog! 👨🌾🐕🐾🚜https://t.co/pPhQgKTPi3
Readers seeking support can contact:
- Headspace 1800 650 890
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
- MensLine Australia 1300 789 978