We are so blessed that we have so many amazing Bush Chaplains and talented volunteers who spring into action right across Australia. We are seeing the demand for our services increase at a level we have not previously experienced.
Loneliness and isolation can take an enormous toll on the human spirit. Mental health in the bush raises concerns for our rural individuals as our friends in rural and remote Australia, loneliness and social isolation often go hand-in-hand with life on the land, and it comes at a devastating cost.
There is a mental health crisis in remote Australia, as our Bush Chaplains are continuing to experience firsthand. Their reports are telling us of the crisis increasing over recent years. Understandably, our farmers and those living remotely have experienced an incredible amount of issues that they have had to remain resilient through. They have been faced with drought, bushfires, floods, mouse plagues, and covid-19!
Research out of the Australia Institute of Health and Welfare confirms that there is a higher risk of mental health issues in the bush than compared to the metro areas. This research found that approximately
1 in 7 people in the bush have attempted suicide at some point in their life.
Indeed, the suicide rate in the bush is more than two times higher than in metropolitan areas. Clearly, the mental health odds in the bush aren’t in favor but that doesn’t stop our friends who work tirelessly on the land and time and time again survive through the environmental and economic tests as a farmer.
Equally shocking is the finding that Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal people aged 12-24 years are 3 times more likely to be hospitalized with mental health illness than their non-indigenous peers. This is the result of so much more than simply loneliness and isolation. Many of our farmers, still recovering from the worst drought in recorded history, lost much of their land and livelihoods to the bushfires. Now floods have claimed many more properties in recent times. Our friends in the bush need us to be a part of their lives more than ever.
We know that we have some amazing volunteers and Bush Chaplains who are always willing to help and serve.
They are ready but we are being asked to do more. Whether that’s helping to fix a fence, hand-feeding livestock or ferrying the kids to school during especially busy times, it can take weeks of labor off farmer’s hands: enabling them to focus on getting their livelihood back on track. And year-round, our Bush Chaplains are on hand to provide spiritual, emotional, and practical support when and as bush communities need it.
It is your continued support that makes this possible.
On behalf of our mates in the bush, thank you sincerely!