"IT is OK, not to be OK".
That was the powerful message the small town of Newdegate spread to thousands of revellers at its annual Machinery Field Days recently.
After a year hiatus, the wet and cool weather conditions did not dampen the spirit of attending farmers, families, industry representatives and business owners.
Growing Mental Health was the theme of this year's event and aimed to raise awareness, reduce stigma and strike important conversation in rural communities.
Newdegate Machinery Field Days committee president Craig Newman officially opened the field days with the support of Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson and Lake Grace Shire president Len Armstrong.
In opening, Mr Newman shared the story of the town's Blue Tree project, which welcomed those entering the field days at the southern entrance.
"The community came together with the primary school to embrace and highlight the importance of mental health in rural communities in the blue tree project," Mr Newman said.
"The idea of the blue tree project combined well with our theme - growing mental health.
"The blue tree now stands as a prominent reminder on the landscape as people enter the field days.
"Its message will be received by many who enter the field days in years to come."
As well as mental health, Mr Newman also touched on the positive seasonal outlook across the agricultural sector.
He said there had been unprecedented increase in sales among local machinery dealers in both harvest and seeding equipment for this year and into the next.
"As a whole, I feel this will be seen across all sectors for the agricultural economy,'' Mr Newman said.
"For WA, the weather for once has been more in our favour and will be carried into the following season with increases in sales of both new and used equipment.
"This current environment of potential higher-than-average yield and prices holding will be exciting times for our exhibitors and producers."
Mr Dawson acknowledged the hard work of the field days committee and the theme of the event.
He said mental health was an important topic for those living in the Wheatbelt and regional WA.
"Although we have had good rains this winter, it has been a difficult few years in the Wheatbelt with previous drought and also last year's effect of COVID-19," Mr Dawson said.
"People in regional areas face unique sets of challenges and I do want to congratulate the Newdegate Field Days' organising committee in putting mental health first.
"That is, by promoting it at this year's event and importantly by starting conversations about mental health and wellbeing."
Mr Dawson added that bringing the community together to take part in the Blue Tree project this year, was an "impressive feat".
He said it was a reminder that mental health was very important in regional WA and conversation needed to continue beyond the event.
"Newdegate's work as a local community in raising awareness of the services that are available and the conversations the community is having are important steps in assisting family, friends, but also neighbours to seek help when they are doing it tough,'' Mr Dawson said.
"You don't need to be an expert to talk to someone who isn't doing so well, but by talking and listening you create an opportunity for someone to seek help and it is so important to be there for each other."
- If you or anyone you know needs help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, MensLine Australia on1300 789 978, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or Headspace on 1800 650 890.