Mental Health is a problematic issue around the world that until recently has often been ignored. The Naked Farmer is a social media movement aiming to break down the difficult conversational barriers that often lay in front of people struggling to speak up on whats going on inside. By using the liberating combination of nudity and farm work, the Naked Farmer is starting conversations about mental health across Australia because at the end of the day it’s easier to talk about what’s inside once someone has bared everything on the outside. Founded by Ben Brooksby on May the 12th 2017, what started as a cheeky Instagram post exploded into a worldwide phenomenon that has captured the hearts and eyes around Australia and the world. If you are wondering how the Naked Farmer starts conversations, head to our Instagram and show a friend who hasn’t heard of us, one of the cheeky yet tasteful photos from the page. After 10 minutes ...... what are you talking about?
BEN BEHIND THE SCENES
G’day! My name is Ben Brooksby a 5th generation farmer from St Helens Plains in Western Victoria Australia. I work alongside my dad here on our family run property doing what we do best – growing crops and breeding sheep. I grew up here on the family farm ever since I was born in May in 1993. I was always a really quiet and reserved kid never able to leave a parents side, which became even more difficult when my parents split at the age of 6. Throughout my schooling years this didn’t change, I couldn’t even attended a school sports day and struggled to go on school camps.
When I was 18 I still struggled with this issue, I couldn’t walk into a shop, or even do the grocery shopping not through the lack of trying either, on several occasions I would fill up the trolley full of groceries but as I prepare myself to go through the check out I would freak out every time resulting in me ditching the trolley down the dog food isle and walking out. One night as I was driving with a few mates I had massive chest pains and couldn’t breath or stop shaking, I thought I was having a stroke or heart attack. This ended up happening 3 times that night where I ended up getting rushed to hospital, but once I got there and they had done tests they couldn’t figure out what had happened. These attacks continued to happen at the strangest times, but luckily my grandma noticed what was happening and this is when our conversation started and I learnt that I was having anxiety attacks. At last I realised I was normal and not a “freak”.
After trying many things to help trying to control it wasn’t until August 30 2015 when I was 22 when everything went to ashes, literally. We lost our beautiful homestead to a fire, the house we grew up in and my dad and aunties grew up in, all gone. Few months on and we decided to rebuild our family farm home, this is when my grandparents and dad gave me the task of being in charge of the rebuild. In my head I knew no way I was capable to be able to do that, I couldn’t even make phone calls let alone walk into a shop to pick out carpet or anything. But I knew I had an expectation to make a home that we can call the new “farm home”. I didn’t want to let my family down so I went waaaayyyy out of my comfort zone and I pushed myself to my limits. This was the major game changer for me, I learnt to over come my issues with anxiety you could say “I rose from the ashes” but something so negative of our home burning down there was a huge positive and that was me learning to control my anxiety. There is a positive in every negative, you just have to find it.
This is just a small part of my story... The full story will be in the book.
The Naked Farmer was founded on May 12th 2017 after a light bulb moment of reflection while I was sowing lentils, the very seeds I had used as a ‘cover up’ while wearing nothing but my boots, socks and hat in the back of the grain truck, in a random photo the season prior. Emma Cross from Emma Jane Industry had been coming out to our family farm for a few years, capturing the harvest on film but never like this!
So here I was on the tractor on a nice autumn day, sowing lentils for our next harvest, while creating an Instagram account. I called it The Naked Farmer, posting my near naked photo, all for a bit of fun. The response went viral and within 7 days I had 1000 followers and I knew I’d struck a chord with the wider community. This idea quickly became the framework for a social media based business, highlighting agriculture through photos of ‘naked farmers’ with props strategically placed. It is also a great platform to educate consumers (around the world, as it turns out) about where their food and fibre comes from!
I chose the RFDS Mental Health Unit to support my fundraising efforts because their dedicated mental health professionals visit remote towns and properties to provide treatment and support, as well as education about mental health issues for individuals and communities in rural and remote areas of Australia. I love the work they are doing in the rural mental health space.
You can call them on 1300 887 678 seven days a week (24 hour service).
If you have a problem you can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
Disclaimer: The Naked Farmer does not provide counselling services but recommends you contact the organisations listed above.