Another very generous donation from the collaborating authors of Rural Business Women, now a best-selling eBook on Amazon.

Sarah Walkerden of The Rural Copywriter, who curated the book, caught up with us to discuss her ties to country life, and their decision to donate to Rural and Remote Mental Health.

Whereabouts are you from and what’s your tie to rural and remote areas?

While I grew up in Melbourne, my uncle owned a large potato farm near Ballarat (Victoria), which is where I spent my school holidays and became obsessed with horses and country life. I always felt more at home out there, than I ever did in the city. So, for the past 11 years, myself and my husband have lived in a little area called Berringa, which is about 40km Southwest of Ballarat. We have 70 acres, that I have happily filled with seven horses, a gaggle of chickens and a couple of inherited sheep.

Tell us a bit about the book, Rural Business Women?

Rural Business Women was a real passion project for me. Mainly, because I couldn’t find any books that could specifically help me, as a rural and regional businesswoman. I’d also been very involved in many other general women’s business networks, but found the advice given by city-based coaches and mentors just wasn’t relevant or feasible for me being out in the middle of nowhere. We do have some unique challenges when we run businesses from remote areas!

The resulting book is a treasure trove of information for any woman who either has an existing business, or an idea to start a new business. The 15 other contributing authors were absolutely brilliant, and their stories are quite inspirational. Rural Business Women covers four main areas, Mindset, Getting Started, Marketing and Systems for Growth. And you don’t have to be a woman to benefit from the advice it contains.

The contributing authors to Rural Business Women.

How did the decision to donate to RRMH come about? We are so grateful!

When you upload and publish an eBook to digital services such as Amazon, the proceeds have to go to one place, even when there are multiple authors. So, instead of trying to manually split these proceeds between the 16 authors, it made much more sense to utilise these as a way of supporting rural communities with the book.

The plan was always to donate these eBook sales to a charity. I researched a few organisations and let all the contributing authors vote for their favourites – and the overwhelming majority wanted to support RRMH and mental health. It’s just such a big and important issue!

How has mental health played a part in your life or your community?

Mental health is definitely something that I have a lot of experience with, so it’s close to my heart. Both my husband and I have battled mental health issues over the years due to various factors and we have a lot of friends and family who struggle from time to time as well.

I have seen how destructive mental health issues can be, when there is a lack of awareness and understanding, and also a lack of appropriate support. And on the flip side, I’ve seen such amazing results for people who have been able to find the right support. I actually think it would be pretty rare these days for anyone to not be affected by some sort of mental health issue at some stage in their lives.

Is your belief that remote areas are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing appropriate mental health services and treatment?

Being in a remote area is a definite disadvantage when it comes to mental health. We’re generally a lot further away from the appropriate support services – and there are less options. We may only have access to one or two local psychologists for example – and if they aren’t the right fit for someone, it’s really difficult to access others.

Often, us country folk are also less inclined to reach out for support. We tend to have been raised with the belief that we should ‘tough it out’ and keep things to ourselves – which doesn’t always serve us.

How do you think the Rural and Remote Mental Health programs could assist remote areas?

I think increasing awareness is the key. So many people tend to battle along alone, not realising that their mental struggles are actually issues that can be either fixed or at least alleviated and managed, and that there is support available.

Particularly among men, there is a tendency to push an issue to one side and ignore it, which often leads to a bigger problem and can cause issues within relationships. If they had the awareness and then the willingness to seek help early on, it could be dealt with much more promptly, and therefore avoid all sorts of repercussions, such as the flow-on effects on families.

That said, it’s also important that friends and family can learn to recognise the signs in those around them and know the appropriate ways to reach out to them – and then the process to follow. Quite often, the person who needs help may not be able to seek or advocate for the right help, alone.