Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Major increase in calls made to Cork and Kerry stress helpline

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

A MASSIVE increase in the number of people using the HSE's Farm and Rural Stress Helpline for counties Cork and Kerry has been reported.

The service had just over 51 callers on average through the first 10 months of the year. However, this figure jumped to 75 and 100 for November and December respectively.

Brenda Crowley, mental health resource officer with HSE South, said that financial worries among farmers had contributed to the sharp rise in calls during the last two months of 2009.

"We have seen a significant change in the type of calls to the helpline of late," Ms Crowley said.

"Previously, many callers cited loneliness, isolation and depression as key factors. These calls are still coming in but some callers are now also expressing concerns about the financial issues in relation to farming.

"Stress and anxiety are huge factors as many farmers have large loans taken out and are having huge difficulties getting grants and entitlements.

"We would urge people who are feeling stressed or lonely to call our helpline and talk to someone in complete confidence," Ms Crowley added.

A recent audit of the helpline, which monitored and evaluated the service's delivery, found:

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  • 55pc of callers were male;
  • 62pc were single;
  • 50pc were living alone;
  • 41pc cited depression and suicidal thoughts as their major health problems;
  • 40pc revealed they had previously received treatment for depression;
  • 43pc cited loneliness or no support as reasons for calling the helpline;
  • 50pc sought further support from the helpline.

The HSE South's Farm and Rural Stress Helpline was launched in 2004 as a practical response to help address the issue of loneliness and isolation experienced by people living in rural areas in Cork and Kerry.

The helpline is open daily from 6.00pm to 10.00pm and is staffed by health professionals. A leaflet promoting the helpline was delivered to approximately 140,000 rural households in both counties.

The service is available at 1800 742 645.

Irish Independent