Psychologists warn of greater risk to men from drought stress

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The Australian Psychological Society is warning that men are at greater risk from the stress of the drought because of their reluctance to ask for help.

Amanda Gordon, President of the Australian Psychological Society, will be speaking in Bathurst tonight about the impact of the drought on the emotional wellbeing of Australia's rural population, especially men.

"Many men in drought affected areas feel they are failing their families. This leads to feelings of shame and the risk is that they will act on that shame. This increased risk of suicide is something the community must take seriously.

"Research has clearly identified a sense of hopelessness as one of the strongest risk factors for attempting suicide. The evidence further shows that, in general, men develop their self-esteem through their role as breadwinner. When factors absolutely outside their control, such as drought, impact on this ability to be in control of that role, men may become depressed – which puts both the man and his family at risk.

"It is crucial that anyone who thinks that they, or someone they know, is a suicide risk should seek professional help as soon as possible."

Ms Gordon also says the stress of the drought may also have an impact on the ability of men in rural areas to care for their physical health.

"Men tend not to look after themselves properly and at times of stress this gets worse. The stress caused by the drought may mean men ignore symptoms of physical illness. This is another issue everyone needs to be aware of to try and minimise the adverse effects of the drought."

Ms Gordon will be addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Western Region Branch of the Australian Psychological Society at the Bathurst Convention and Function Centre on 17 June 2005.

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For more information or to arrange an interview with Amanda Gordon:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3300
e.grant@psychology.org.au