There are as many different types of farmers as there are farms. But one thing they have in common is a feeling of isolation. Working the land may benefit from modern knowledge, skills and technology, but the farmer is largely solitary for long hours of stressful and demanding work. There are many stressors associated with the industry, not least the changing weather, politics, questions of succession and the environment. One thing which arises from this and still remains largely taboo is the increasing and concerning number of farmers with mental health issues.
Farming tends still to be a male dominated industry. We have seen gradual changes starting in other areas such as sport, spreading awareness and encouraging men to open up about their fears and worries. Now it’s time for the farming industry to face up to anxiety and depression. Mental health issues don’t represent weakness. They can be addressed with the right help and support.
I am a counsellor for “You are Not Alone”, a charity which supports people employed in the farming community. YANA also has a helpline (YANA UK 03003230400) for people with an urgent need to talk about their concerns.
I recently participated in a Webinar, arranged by Archant with the Eastern Daily Press (EDP) to spread awareness about this concerning situation, where every week someone else in the farming community takes their own life. A panel of interested individuals discussed the prevalence of mental health issues as well as the reasons people become isolated and fear sharing their problems. Please feel free to share this Webinar with your contacts and spread the word.