Social relationship in rural areas : Recent reports show that people living in rural regions are much more at risk of suffering depression than city-dwellers. Can you think of reasons why this is the case? Studies have also revealed that those living on the countryside are more likely to take up smoking and also drink more. The factors attributed include the harsh environments and drought, the economy, the general recession in rural communities, the closing of local services including banks and schools and the increased levels of unemployment.
In your experience, how true is this report to you? The serious nature of the issue in regional Area is seeing the rise of suicide rates in men over the age of 25. Why do you think the numbers are alarmingly higher for males? What factors do you think contribute to this grave matter? Can you validate or debate any of this information?
The simple truth is out here in the bush its much harder to escape one’s demons. Its so easy to cut yourself off from your fellow human beings. Often people are isolated from family and friends and there is not much else to do than drink yourself into oblivion. There are few- if any mental health services. There is also a stigma attached to having any kind of mental health issue- including work related stress. So most people- men and women- live in public denial and private hell. If we do talk about it its to make a joke of it. Laughter is only the mask- it slips when we are alone.
As a woman living remote, I have found other women here more willing to share their turmoils. We air them over a coffee or a drink or three. Even so, the isolation makes it difficult to gain a sense of perspective. It must be so much harder for the men where denial, humour and the tough guy image are very prevalent.
The reality is demonstrated in the level of marriage break down- 25% of marriages in an 18 month period ending in separation.
Great to see this issue being given some air. I lived and worked in rural communities for many years running my families orchard and teaching. My now ex husband developed an addiction to internet porn that became an obsession, ruining his mental / emotional health and consequently our marriage. I could never get him to talk about it, to me or anyone, to get help or even acknowledge he had a problem. And yet I think it all began as a means of escapism. Rural life can be very satisfying and rewarding, but it is fraught with constant challenges.
If you don’t have good family, friends and mentors close at hand, the constant challenges and setbacks can become totally demoralising.
For men it is worse I think because most guys internalise their stress which eventually gets channelled into innappropriate / distructive outlets. ie drinking, gambling, porn.
I left my mountain home 2 1/2 years ago as a single parent, to return to the urban fringe so I could make a decent living to raise my kids.
I miss my mountain home terribly, but I can’t get over how much easier every day is when you don’t have to battle the elements for every aspect of your living. I can see why proud men give up their dream and leave the land.
Rural people need to be supported in making the choices that can help improve their lives and they need the local services to help them work through the issues. But the blokes need to learn to speak up, speak out about the struggles they face so that they realise that they are not alone and so they gain strength and mutual support in dealing with it together.