ALONG with the body, the mind is the best bit of kit a farmer can have. But it is also the hardest to maintain. Commitments on the farm, lack of local healthcare support and the stigma surrounding mental health are the main reasons why many within the farming community struggle to look after their mind and body. But if they are not well-maintained the consequences can be disastrous.
Agriculture carries a high rate of poor mental health for various reasons. Isolation and the fact it is a male dominated sector are just a couple of reasons for poor mental health. Add to that the pressure that comes along with being a modern day farmer and we have a recipe for possible poor mental health. What we need to realise is that we are not alone.
These feelings you might be having aren’t ones that only you feel. There are many people who feel the same way; the same loneliness, helplessness and uncertainty. It’s also important to understand there is no shame in having poor mental health.
We all have mental health, various things happen throughout our life that impact our mental health and there is no shame or weakness in admitting you are suffering with poor mental health.
The single most effective thing you can do to help yourself is to talk. Talk about your struggles and about what you are feeling. Just by telling someone what you are going through is one of the biggest steps you can take – you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders.
Importantly if you are that person being talked to you need to listen. It is too easy to offer advice and positive thoughts and ways forward but ultimately that person has taken a huge step to talk to you and you need to just sit and listen.
Support is out there, if you feel that your mental health is suffering the first thing to do is talk to your GP. They will be able to advise you on the best steps forward. There are also excellent services available within Wales specifically for the agricultural community, Farming Community Network and Tir Dewi being two and of course The DPJ Foundation and The RABI.
There is also Mind Cymru and Call Helpline Wales who can all offer support. Most importantly we urge you to talk, whether you suffer with poor or good mental health. Talk about mental health, have that conversation, look out for the signs amongst friends and be that person to listen.
The more conversations we have about mental health the more comfortable people will feel talking about it and we can reduce the stigma that surrounds this awful illness that affects so many.
Samaritans: 116 123 or Welsh Language Line (Llinell Gymraeg): 0808 164 0123
DPJ Foundation: Call 0800 587 4262 or if talking on the phone isn’t your thing you can now text if you would like support – Text 07860 048799
Mind Cymru: Call 0300 123 3393, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or text 86463
FCN: 03000 111 999 RABI: 0808 281 9490
Tir Dewi: 0800 121 4722
• 1 in 4 people will suffer with mental health problems in their lifetime
• 16.7% of the population have had suicidal thoughts
• In 2014 6,581 died by suicide in the UK – 1,850 died on UK roads
• Suicide is a leading cause of death in young men and women aged 20-34 in the UK
• Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that the number of young suicides each year is greater than it has been for the past 10 years
• In 2015 1,660 young people under 35 years took their own lives; 103 more than in 2014 and 58 more than the previous highest recorded figure (1,631 in 2011)
• 9 out of 10 people with mental health have suffered discrimination.