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GoodYarn: building mental health literacy in New Zealand’s rural workforce

Kate Morgaine (Department of Social and Preventative Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Louise Thompson (WellSouth Primary Health Network, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Katie Jahnke (WellSouth Primary Health Network, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Rebecca Llewellyn (WellSouth Primary Health Network, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 18 December 2017




“GoodYarn” is a skills-based workshop that focusses on building mental health literacy in rural communities, members of which are known to experience geographic, attitudinal and service configuration barriers to accessing mental health services. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the impact of the GoodYarn project on raising mental health literacy in the rural community.


GoodYarn is primarily for farmers, their families and farm workers, as well as the “farmer facing” workforce. The focus on mental health literacy aligns with the mental health promotion approach of using methods that foster supportive environments. By raising the mental health literacy of those not directly needing help, but in positions to help those that do – such as employers, rural professionals and rural support industries who are well placed to perceive stressors in farmers – GoodYarn builds a community with the knowledge and skills to identify and approach those experiencing mental distress or illness, and direct them to appropriate support and services. All participants in the GoodYarn workshops (n=430) were invited to complete a questionnaire at the end of the workshop. All participants answered the questionnaire, with over 80 per cent answering all questions.


Participant feedback affirmed the utility of GoodYarn as an effective vehicle to facilitate the discussion of mental illness in rural farming communities of New Zealand. GoodYarn had a significant positive impact on the three immediate workshop indicators of awareness, confidence and knowledge (p<0.001 for all three indicators). Further, the high level of concordance in workshop outcomes across various organisations’ delivery indicates programme consistency and quality has been maintained throughout the upscaling of the programme.


The uptake of the GoodYarn programme by rural organisations and communities at a national level, and the positive evaluation results, provide encouragement that building mental health literacy in the rural workforce is a promising mental health promotion strategy.



Morgaine, K., Thompson, L., Jahnke, K. and Llewellyn, R. (2017), "GoodYarn: building mental health literacy in New Zealand’s rural workforce", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 180-190.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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