Norco, Australia’s oldest and largest 100% farmer owned dairy co-operative, has partnered with the Black Dog Institute to raise funds and provide easy access to online mental health support tools for its farmers, their families and people living in regional communities across the nation.
The initiative – which commenced in March and will continue through May – sees special labels on Norco’s high volume 2L full cream and lite milk, featuring a QR code that link directly to evidence-based online mental health tools, provided by the Black Dog Institute, including a free personal assessment tool and self-help program for people experiencing mild to moderate depression, anxiety and stress.
In addition, five cents from every Norco branded white milk purchased at Coles before 30 April will be donated to the Black Dog Institute to help fund research, resources, and digital tools, which are particularly essential in regional areas where access to traditional mental health support is limited.
The initiative coincides with the launch of ‘The National Farmer Wellbeing Report’, a first-of-its-kind study into farmer mental health, research that was commissioned by Norco and in partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation.
Findings from the Report paint a saddening picture of the mental health of Australia’s hard-working farmers and the heart and souls of regional communities across Australia, with close to a third (30%) reporting a decline in their mental health over the past few years.
The Report also found that depression and anxiety was rife among Aussie farming communities, with close to half of Aussie farmers (45%) having had thoughts of self-harm or suicide in recent years. Event more devastating, close to a third (30%) have attempted self-harm or suicide.
Norco General Manager of Commercial and Strategy Ben Menzies says how important it is for the co-operative to raise awareness, and take steps to help address the issue of mental health in farming communities.
“Norco is a proudly 100% farmer-owned co-operative, and this means that supporting our farmers, their families and the communities in which they live and work, is in our DNA.
“The findings from the National Farmer Wellbeing Report are certainly confronting, but as a co-operative we have made a commitment to doing everything we can, within our means and within our farming communities, to help make a difference,” Mr Menzies said.
“One of these steps is partnering with the Black Dog Institute to not only raise funds, but to also provide easy access to evidence-based tools and lifesaving resources for those who may be in need, and where other support mechanisms may be limited or unavailable.
“We are also proud to be raising funds for the Black Dog Institute with Coles and call on the public to get behind the initiative. Simply by purchasing any Norco branded white milk products, not only are you supporting our farmer members and their communities but five cents from every bottle purchased will contribute to supporting rural mental health,” he said.
As a further demonstration of its commitment to supporting farmer and regional wellbeing, Norco is implementing ‘Farmer Wellbeing’ community education sessions at various Norco AgriSolutions stores and at key agricultural events such as Primex throughout May and June. These events bring farmers together, helping them stay connected to one another and will provide tools and resources on financial, physical and mental wellbeing.
All funds raised from the partnership will go towards supporting online resources and digital mental health tools, including the Adult Wellbeing Program research project; a digital therapy treatment application to be used alongside traditional face-to-face methods of mental health support.
For more information about the Norco and Black Dog Institute partnership, visit norcofoods.com.au/mental-health.