“One of the things I’ve noticed with farmers under pressure is that they withdraw into themselves. I’ve done it myself,” he said.
“So, I think that as a farming community we need to be much more open to discussing the pressures we’re dealing with.
“We need to get better as a community at genuinely finding out how people are doing. The common answer is often ‘yeah good’, no matter how people actually feel, so we need to combat that.
“First, people have got to know that you’re not going to judge them. So, if you’re the leader of your business or team, you’ve got to lead by example and show your team that if you’re not feeling okay, you’ll talk about it.
“We need more farmers showing that vulnerability because that gives other people permission to speak up as well.”
Kane says when you actually break down a farmer’s day – the movements they do and the loads they carry, the mobility required, the responsibilities and decision-making – there’s a lot that goes into farming that one often never thinks about, especially the strain on both body and mind.
“I know for me in terms of managing work stress, the big thing is to just acknowledge how you’re feeling and be honest about anything that’s getting to you,” he said.
“It’s important to let go of the little things – often we give little problems so much time and space that they start consuming us. That’s where talking to others really helps.”
Kane says the need for more transparency when it comes to talking about the daily pressures of farming is what motivated him to create the Farm Fit NZ page, “to start the conversation”.
“Since then, I’ve had people messaging me and telling me how they are and what their challenges are because they feel comfortable to do that with someone who is putting himself out there,” he said.
“It’s helping more people in our local community to start those convos that are a bit harder to have.
“I reckon there’s a 100% correlation between doing these things and how well you perform on-farm. It’s black-and-white to me. It’s part of becoming a better farmer.
“My mantra is: let’s be proactive about our health and mental health.
“We do it on-farm when we grow winter crops, because we know we’re going to need feed, but we don’t always do it with our own health.
“Let’s talk about this stuff.”