The Health News – 15 December 2015

Overview:
• A study from Murdoch University, Neville Ellis interviewed 22 farmers from the Wheatbelt town in WA found that farmers’ mental health is being negatively impacted as weather patterns become more erratic and unpredictable.

• An inquiry into services for people with autism spectrum disorder is calling for submissions from the public, and Bendigo autism advocate Rebecca Kelly has outlined her concerns. Ms Kelly’s eight-year-old daughter was diagnosed with autism four years ago and her son, who is now six, was diagnosed a year later.

• The Garvan Institute of Medical Research warmly congratulates Professor Don Chisholm, who has been awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) by UNSW Australia. This higher doctorate is accorded in recognition of a body of work that has made a significant contribution to a field of knowledge.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 15th December 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-14/climate-change-impacts-farmers-mental-health/7026804

A study has found that farmers’ mental health is being negatively impacted as weather patterns become more erratic and unpredictable.

Over a two-year period, Murdoch University post doctorate associate Neville Ellis interviewed 22 farmers from the Wheatbelt town of Newdegate, in Western Australia… about how they were responding emotionally and psychologically to climate change.

Mr Ellis specifically chose the Wheatbelt because it is one of the most climate change-affected parts of Australia, having lost 20 per cent of its winter rainfall since the 1970s.

Mr Ellis found farmers in the area had lost confidence in the consistency of weather patterns and their ability to predict them.

“So what you see in these dry seasons is that farmers will be checking forecast 10, 20, 30 times a day. They just don’t know what’s coming on the horizon, so there’s a degree of anxiety about what is coming their way.”

Farmers had also described becoming obsessed with long range forecasts, tracking storm systems as far as the Horn of Africa right across the Indian Ocean to the Wheatbelt in the hope that they may bring rain.

One of the most significant findings from Mr Ellis’ study was farmers’ response to the degradation of their land due to wind erosion, which is a result of long, dry seasons.

Seasonal affective disorder usually affects those living in countries with long, dark winters and is generally associated with a lack of sunlight.

However, a general practitioner working in the Wheatbelt told Mr Ellis he believed farmers in the Wheatbelt were suffering a form of the disorder, not because of a lack of light but due to the lack of rain.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-14/state-autism-inquiry/7026300

An inquiry into services for people with autism spectrum disorder is calling for submissions from the public, and Bendigo autism advocate Rebecca Kelly has outlined her concerns.

Ms Kelly’s eight-year-old daughter was diagnosed with autism four years ago and her son, who is now six, was diagnosed a year later.

“You are born with it; there are some people who believe it’s environmental,” she said.

“In my family it’s genetic. I’m autistic, I think my husband is autistic, my children are autistic, I have cousins who are on the spectrum who have autistic children as well.”

Her personal experience with autism has led Ms Kelly to become an advocate for autistic children and their families in the Bendigo region.

She said the upcoming inquiry by the Family and Community Development Committee was long overdue, especially in regards to services and educational support for people with autism.

http://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/news/professor-don-chisholm-awarded-doctor-of-science-by-unsw-australia

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research warmly congratulates Professor Don Chisholm, who has been awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) by UNSW Australia.

This higher doctorate is accorded in recognition of a body of work that has made a significant contribution to a field of knowledge.

In Prof Chisholm’s career, which spans almost five decades, he has made numerous advances in the fields of endocrinology and diabetes, and particularly in our understanding of insulin resistance and how it relates to obesity. In 1999, he was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to medicine and medical research.

A clinician as well as a researcher, Prof Chisholm has long worked to ensure strong links between basic diabetes research and clinical care of diabetes patients. He was closely involved in the establishment of the St Vincent’s Diabetes Centre in Sydney in 1980, and became the Centre’s founding director (1980-1991). The Centre brings together diabetes research at Garvan with the clinical care of diabetes patients.