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Aust J Rural Health. 2008 Jun;16(3):170-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1584.2008.00968.x.

Partnerships to promote mental health of NSW farmers: the New South Wales Farmers Blueprint for Mental Health.

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Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Moree, New South Wales, Australia.



To describe the process and outcome of development of a framework for planning and implementation of a range of interventions aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of farmers and farm families in New South Wales (NSW).


In response to a major drought in New South Wales (NSW), key agencies were invited to participate in a longer-term collaborative program aimed at improving the mental health and well-being of the people on NSW farms. These agencies became the NSW Farmers Mental Health Network.


The Australian National Action Plan for Promotion, Prevention & Early Intervention for Mental Health 2000 proposed a population health approach base encompassing the range of risk and protective factors that determine mental health at the individual, family and community and society levels. It incorporated three traditional areas of health activity into programs aimed at achieving improved mental health for the Australian population - mental health promotion, prevention activities and early intervention. Although the farming population was not identified as a priority population, research has identified this population to be at high risk of suicide, and of having difficulty in coping with the range of pressures associated with life and work in this industry.


Participants were agencies providing services across rural NSW in the fields of farmer and country women's organisations, financial counselling services, government departments of primary industries and health, mental health advisory and support services, charitable organisations and others.


The NSW Farmers Blueprint for Mental Health ( was developed to be 'a simplified summary of key issues that need to be addressed, and the major actions that we can be confident will be effective in achieving our purpose'. It has identified 'steps' along 'pathways to breakdown' from the range of known mental health and suicide risk factors that are relevant to the NSW farming population, and 23 areas of current and potential action that would contribute to improving mental health, as key steps along 'pathways to health'. For each of the areas of action there is described the rationale and basis for action, and the lead agency or individual who has accepted responsibility for coordinating and reporting further activity to the Network.


It is suggested that the NSW Farm Blueprint and the activities being implemented by the NSW Farmers Mental Health Network partners represent a model for implementation of a mental health promotion in identified at-risk Australian populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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