Value of mental health first aid training of advisory and extension agents in supporting farmers in rural Queensland

Rural Remote Health. 2010 Oct-Dec;10(4):1593. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Introduction: This study was a pilot project responding to the increasing levels of stress, depression and other mental health issues in Australian rural areas resulting from prolonged drought and a changing economic and social environment.

Methods: Thirty-two Advisory and Extension Agents (AEAs) attended a training course held in 2007 and 2008 in Queensland, Australia. A year after the training, data was collected to determine its value. Interviews were conducted with course participants and their supervisors and focus groups were held with stakeholders (farmers, agency staff and health professionals).

Results: The findings show that Mental Health First Aid training improved the participants' confidence level and their knowledge of mental health issues and increased their empathy toward persons with mental health problems. Furthermore, providing training on mental health issues to AEAs was perceived by stakeholders to be beneficial to both farmers and AEAs.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that stakeholders and course participants see this type of training as very much needed and highly beneficial. Further, providing training in mental health issues to rural service providers can be very beneficial to their farmer clients and their social network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / therapy
  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration
  • Droughts
  • Female
  • First Aid / methods*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration
  • Pilot Projects
  • Professional Role
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Queensland
  • Rural Health
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Social Support