Farm succession stakes causing mental health issues

Not being fully included in a will can be a matter of losing your life's work
Not being fully included in a will can be a matter of losing your life's work
Farm succession is a big issue.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Stressful farm succession situations are leading to increased mental health issues for both parties involved, according to consultant Sian Bushell.

"Increasingly in the last two years I've come across a lot of mental health issues and it's usually in young people because they don't know what's happening in the future," the farm succession expert told the recent Positive Farmers Conference in Cork.

"I remember in particular one family in Scotland where there was a young man taking anti-depressants because he didn't know what was going to happen and he was in his 30s and married with three children. Sadly his father wasn't well and every time he did something his father didn't agree with, his father would say if he didn't do what he told him, he'd give the farm to his sister."

Older generations are just as susceptible to the stresses of farm succession.

"Younger generations feel frustrated if they're not being given enough responsibility for what's happening in the future and that's a real mental health issue but I also see it in the older generation as they're getting worried about their security going forward," Ms Bushell said.


Ms Bushell told the Farming Independent that cases of early onset dementia can lead to stressful succession situations.

"I've come across dementia a few times recently and it's difficult as people don't recognise it initially," she said.

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"What's sad is when people start forgetting things, they think it's dementia and don't want to talk or think about it - but actually sometimes forgetting things is not dementia it could be something else, so they need to visit a doctor."

Ms Bushell added that open communication is the only way to make succession less stressful for all parties involved.

"I can guarantee if you're not having that conversation, the people involved will feel insecure and frustrated," she said.

"Succession is going to happen, you can't bury your head in the sand. It needs to be addressed and everyone has to be equally involved."

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