Farmer Wants a Healthy Life

The Art of Listening

December 10, 2021 Season 2 Episode 2
The Art of Listening
Farmer Wants a Healthy Life
More Info
Farmer Wants a Healthy Life
The Art of Listening
Dec 10, 2021 Season 2 Episode 2

In this episode we hear from Robyn Kelm, a nurse turned hairdresser / makeshift counsellor. She shares what she has learnt about mental health and how to help someone who is struggling. She also talks about mental health stigma and how that can impact on people.

Interested in the topic and looking for more?

If you are concerned about someone and not sure how to start a conversation R U OK? can help.


Check out these fact sheets on Depression, Relationships and family, and Stress


Check out the You Got This Mate Program! The program is for men living in rural Australia, and aims to helps them reach their best mental health. It provides:

  • Information on mental health matters
  • Stories (much like these podcasts)
  • Tips to look after your mental health
  • Tips to help other men


There are also some services available to people in the Wimmera, including:


Mental Health is also covered in this Farmer Wants a Healthy Life episodes from series one:

  • AFL to Life with Depression
  • The Mental Tips
  • From Footy Coach to Rural Outreach Worker

There will be more episodes on mental health coming in series two, so keep your eye out for them!

Join the conversation
Facebook: @FarmerWantsaHealthyLife                                               Twitter: @_FWAHL

Facebook: @FarmerWantsaHealthyLife Twitter: @_FWAHL

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we hear from Robyn Kelm, a nurse turned hairdresser / makeshift counsellor. She shares what she has learnt about mental health and how to help someone who is struggling. She also talks about mental health stigma and how that can impact on people.

Interested in the topic and looking for more?

If you are concerned about someone and not sure how to start a conversation R U OK? can help.


Check out these fact sheets on Depression, Relationships and family, and Stress


Check out the You Got This Mate Program! The program is for men living in rural Australia, and aims to helps them reach their best mental health. It provides:

  • Information on mental health matters
  • Stories (much like these podcasts)
  • Tips to look after your mental health
  • Tips to help other men


There are also some services available to people in the Wimmera, including:


Mental Health is also covered in this Farmer Wants a Healthy Life episodes from series one:

  • AFL to Life with Depression
  • The Mental Tips
  • From Footy Coach to Rural Outreach Worker

There will be more episodes on mental health coming in series two, so keep your eye out for them!

Join the conversation
Facebook: @FarmerWantsaHealthyLife                                               Twitter: @_FWAHL

Facebook: @FarmerWantsaHealthyLife Twitter: @_FWAHL

Brigitte

This is a West Wimmera Health Service podcast. 

Presented by me, Bridgitte Muir. 

During the millennial drought, Robyn Kelm turned her hairdressing salon, Sirs & Hers, into a counselling hub for hardhead farming families. So, who is Robyn? And what can she teach us about helping others when they are going through hard times? 


Robyn

I come from a farming background, I grew up at Harrow, which I have fond memories of and still go back there, when I can. Moved to Horsham when I was 17, finished my schooling here and went to Melbourne. Was never going to marry a farmer, was never going to come back to Horsham. I've done both of those things. I've started nursing and then I went to hairdressing, which I found… my passion and my love, and did that for 33 years before selling the business in 2016. 


Brigitte

That's an interesting jump from nursing to hairdressing. 


Robyn

In my time of doing both hairdressing and nursing, I found, that there was various numbers of us that had done either the reverse of, somebody had already started nursing and gone hairdressing, or had been hairdressing and gone nursing. I think it's the people caring attitude… that brings it together. 


Brigitte

It's very hands on, and that creates a special link doesn't it? 


Robyn

It certainly can and a relaxation, a contact. It's like touching somebody on the arm “Hello, how are you?” it's very different to just say “hello, how are you?”. 


Brigitte

It does create that special connection, which perhaps …puts people in the place where they're more likely to open, and then all sorts of things can happen can’t they


Robyn

Absolutely and nobody intends to open up, I think, I feel …bit it evolves, it happens. 


Brigitte

You actually use that through your hairdressing career to… help people …who were going through rough times, and we're talking about farmers here. All that happened when you were hairdresser, during the millennial drought. So, can you tell me a bit more about that?

Robyn

In my experience, and I've, I’ve put it down to the fact that I was a little bit older, I was able to relate to people, and maybe because I had come from a farming background, and we've experienced droughts and, and good times… but I had an empathy I believe… and I did care, I really genuinely cared. 


Brigitte

How did you know that there was something… not quite right with people that …needed help?


Robyn

Body language, and the tone of their voice, just their look in their eyes. I just was able to pick that up, and I don't know why, but it was something that I was aware of. And maybe people felt that they could talk to me, so that therefore they would have that when they came in the door. 


Brigitte

I think that…it's very easy to pick up on people's vibrations and how open they are and how open their heart is. And I'm sure that's what people who came through your door were picking up on. 


Robyn

Absolutely. And amazingly, a lot of those people are a beautiful, caring people as well, so it reciprocated between all of us. It was a very special time for me.


Brigitte

What happened after that? 


Robyn

I think, just by working in the salon and being there for people, I, I believe that I was continuing with that, but I was only ever a listener and it wasn't for me, to take it anywhere. I believe that the work that happened in 2006 opened a lot of doors, and country people were recognised. There seemed to be help, in my eyes in Melbourne but certainly coming through to the country that, there seemed to be like a barrier. Whereas, after 2006 the floodgates were opened, and, and when you look at mental health now, even children are able to access help. So, I believe that right through all this time it's kept going and grown, and that's where it is today. 


Brigitte

There is still one problem though. It doesn't matter how much help there is out there. If you don't ask for help, you stay within your little world of misery and, and hardship. What can you tell people… to convince them to get …help to be able to talk to someone? 


Robyn

We're not mind reader's. For people out there I would encourage them, to, to… whether it's a neighbour, whether it's their own family, their best friend…I would, I would encourage them to, to open up and talk about it. But it is really hard, because in your head, you're probably thinking I don't have a problem. But you know, in your heart you do and there's a real crossfire of will I, won't I, you know, how will people think, what will people think of me, that type thing. But my thoughts are that we love them all, and family love who they are, they would only help them rather than anything else. 


Brigitte

When your on the land, and farming communities, or , or in the country really …and also other people perhaps,  have got that impression that if you're self-employed, and you're looking after your farm and everything else, you've got to be strong, and you have to project that strength into whatever actions you taking, and that I think, can be a real problem to admitting that you do have a problem 


Robyn

And I agree, that would be the hardest for …men, particularly, to bring that out and say that they do have that type of problem. But, that stigma is, I really don't know how to break that down. But I believe… there's a lot more women working on the farms, beside their partners, their husbands, their children. Hopefully, that will create more communication, because if you're out there doing a job today, and something doesn't quite go right, at least you can come home and discuss it together and say, you know that didn't work out the way it was meant to ,or you know break down, or whatever on the machinery you can at least talk about it


Robyn

We talked about what stops people from asking for help, and that’s a tricky one, Brigitte, what stops them? It's the stigma, isn’t it?. 


Brigitte

About 12 years ago, I went through a hard time in my life, and, I was feeling really, really depressed to the point of thinking about suicide. And I was seeing a doctor …regularly but… it was someone that knew me as a mountain climber, summited Everest and all that I’m a strong woman. 


Robyn

Yes


Brigitte

She'll be right, but it wasn't right. And I'm not sure why I can't remember exactly what happened but ended up going and seeing… another doctor in Horsham, and she saw me, and she asked me a few questions, and she said your “suffering from severe clinical depression”, and she put me on antidepressants. And from the first tablet I took, I felt like wow, I’m me again. It was an amazing experience, because I think that people who know you, can also have a…. judgement… about you, or an idea about you, a first impression, you know. 


Robyn

Yes


Brigitte

He is a farmer. He's a strong guy. And so it's, it’s very hard to go past that to actually …get someone that will understand …what's going on with you, when you don't even know what's going on with yourself. 


Robyn

Exactly. So, that’s, that’s an amazing story. And, and I get exactly what you're saying because in people's eyes, you would be a strong woman. How can you do all this fantastic stuff, and maybe not work with something that's happened in your life? It's definitely the stigma Brigitte. I believe it's the older stoic gentleman, in our farming community that are… like that more, and then it's the younger generation who are communicating more, and able to access or… accept help. 


Brigitte

What about you, as a woman who …is married to a farmer? Have you ever …had to deal with mental issues …in your farm family life? 


Robyn

We’ve been pretty okay. I did, I did have a scenario that happened in my life in 2014. And that, that took me for a six. I worked out in the end, I felt sorry for myself, that, that was the key. I really felt sorry for myself, and it's like, ‘Hey, come on, Rob. Get over this is, you got to let that go’. And I tell you what I did, I went to the gym, and I started exercising, and Miss Lisa saw me, you know, she knew, she could pick it up straightaway. So, talk about that body language. That's …what happened there. And since then, I've been fine. You know, just keeping going at the gym. 


Brigitte

Exercise helped you. 


Robyn

Absolutely.


Brigitte 

There's nothing like exercise. 


Robyn

It's just the best, it releases positive endorphins. I just can't explain to people how… much better it makes you feel. 


Brigitte

I know all about it *chuckles*…I get so grumpy if I don't go walking. 


Robyn

Right


Brigitte

It really, really helps 


Robyn

It does


Brigitte

And you really have to push yourself sometimes, or I have to push myself, get out of the door, and get off my ass, and go out there, not that I'm not busy. 


Robyn

No


Brigitte

There’s plenty to be occupied at home, and with work, and everything. But that little bit of doing it for yourself. 


Robyn

Yes. 


Brigitte

It's …just amazing the power …it has


Robyn

The communities out of Horsham they've all got Town Hall, don't they? I don't know how… it could ever be done, but to just to have them turn up at seven in the morning, before they start their day, would be absolutely fantastic to get those farmers, and have somebody… whether it's zoom class, you know, that it's happening for them and that would be lovely to start the day like, or it would be pretty perfect. I reckon. 


Brigitte

It only takes one local person to …start that kind of process. I, I went to Warracknabeal not so long ago, and they have an Active Farmers group there…


Robyn

Oh okay


Brigitte

…that meets once a week, and they actually would love to do it more than once a week. It's just up to someone, in the local community to… 


Robyn

…create that. 


Brigitte

And it's the best way to do it, I suppose. You know, you've got someone who's local, who knows all the locals, and it's like the Men's Sheds. 


Robyn

Yes. 


Brigitte

So if they could be an active component to Men's Shed, there you go, we’re coming up with ideas Robyn, to help our farming communities 


Robyn

Well that way you, you could, you've got to fold thing. You've got them meeting and saying hello to each other. You know, or you're here, or good to see, or whatever. And I guarantee half an hour, they're all, they're all got to go, because, they’ve to get their jobs done, or harvest is happening or…


Brigitte

Sure. 


Robyn

 Those sorts of things. But if it was once a week, it would be better than none wouldn’t it. 


Brigitte

Connection and exercise. 


Robyn

Yes


Brigitte

That's a winning way to …stay out of Doctor surgeries 


Robyn

Definitely 


Brigitte

and stay away from mental issues. 


Robyn

Absolutely. 


Brigitte

Which can touch, each one of us 


Robyn

Certainly can. 


Brigitte

What would you do if you suspect that, that someone close to you is going through …problems as far as mental health goes?


Robyn

I would approach them, and talk to them privately, if I could, and see if they’ll to me. If they did do that, then I would say that, you know, you really do care and can we do something together? I’ll can come with you, or whatever is needed. I believe …listening is, is the main skill, to be able to listen to and encourage them to talk, it keep them going, regardless of how long. But… definitely, that the listening… would be the key for me. If that wasn't the choice, and they were really closed the book, I would then work around with their friends, family, and to say that I'm aware, and if there's anything I could do to help…. I'm more than willing to help. But that would be… as far as I could go. 


Brigitte

Sometimes it's a fine line. But if you open enough to the situation, and during our life, that's all we do. We read situations and we act upon, our feelings towards those situations, don’t we?


Robyn

Yes, we do react to what's happening right there, and then, at that time 


Brigitte

Yep choices, life is made of choices. Perhaps .one last word to …people in farming communities… who …may have an issue that they really need to discuss with someone. What would you advise them?


Robyn

I'd encourage them to go… to their local GP, or neighbour and open up. Be honest about where they're at. Because we as friends, neighbours, communities, we don't expect people to be on their own… with this, that’s not what we want. We want them to feel that they're doing work, life, living by themselves, and that we all care. But to open up, to talk, to communicate, would be my recommendation. 


Brigitte

Thank you, Robyn. 


Robyn

Thank you, Bridgitte


Brigitte

That was Robyn Kelm from Drung, near Horsham. 


You will find as always contact numbers and details in the notes attached to this episode. And while you're at it, please give us a star rating. We'd also love to hear your comments and suggestions. Our Facebook and Twitter details are in the notes. Until next have a healthy life won’t you.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai edited by WWHS Health Promotion