Mark Johnston, Heyfield - SEPTEMBER 2022 Calendar
by Gippsland Jersey
‘Open up, find someone to talk to and if you have any underlying issues, just talk. Talking is the best medicine.’
Mark Johnston doesn’t steer away from hard conversations, in fact, he welcomes them. Mental health is something that he has experienced within his own family and has helped him relate to others that may be travelling the same road. He is passionate about spreading the word that talking about struggles in life is a valuable tool that can help manage your mental health.
Mark was brought up on a dairy farm in Heyfield with his parents, Peter and Christine along with his six siblings. His dad is a proud and capable farmer and hasn’t had a sick cow in years, he still gets out of bed each day at 3:00 am to hand strip each of his 100 Canadian Jerseys before milking. Ideally Mark would love to take over the family farm from his father on day and is currently working in farm maintenance, which he says is the next best thing to dairy farming! This career enables Mark to see many different places and meet many different people. Due to the nature of the work involved, farming in general can be quite isolating, with many working hours potentially spent alone.
One of Mark’s gifts in life is getting people to open up and talk. Marks’ personal experience with mental health helps him notice if someone’s disposition has changed and he encourages them to open up about the things in their life that bring them joy outside farming. So often, chatting about life away from work can be cathartic for those suffering emotional fatigue. Being a support network for people in his life brings Mark a lot of personal fulfilment, he knows that dairy farmers often dedicate their lives to their work and can become consumed by it, it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. His own father says he doesn’t know what he would do with himself if he wasn’t still farming and this is something that effects many people in the industry.
To manage his own emotional health Mark enjoys taking his four children camping, playing sport, talking to others, spending time with his wife and getting together with the extended family on the farm. They all love the farming way of life and Mark appreciates first-hand the great effort farmers put in to ensure people receive high quality milk.
Mark currently is not working for AK dairy. Mark woke up one day and needed a change, feeling he and Em need a reboot, so they sold up, bought a van and are currently traveling around Queensland till the end of year. He says it's been the best thing for their mental health and their family!
Find our more about all 12 of our farmers stories in the 2022 Mental Health Calendar - it's FREE, there's still a small handful left and you can grab yours here