Farm Ireland

Saturday 16 December 2017

Most farmers would hide mental illness

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Research has found that 57pc of Irish farmers surveyed would not want others to know if they suffered from a mental health problem.

Some 42pc of farmers would hide a diagnosis of a mental health problem from friends and 27pc would delay seeking help for fear of someone knowing about it, according to research from the mental health promotion body See Change.

To combat this reluctance among farmers to seek help, the IFA and See Change have joined together to create a new leaflet that aims to help farmers to deal with the stress of farm life.

'Let's Talk: Dealing With Stress' was officially launched last week by the IFA, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State with responsibility for mental health.

The leaflet contains details for farmers and their families on the causes and signs of stress, as well as expert and practical advice and contact information for further sources of information and support.

IFA farm family and social affairs chairwoman Margaret Healy said recent years had been very tough for farm families, due to falling farm incomes and heavy debt burdens, as well as trying to maintain extra people due to the loss of off-farm incomes.

She said that the lack of dedicated services for rural communities was compounding mental health problems.

She also called on the HSE to expand the Cork-based Farm and Rural Stress helpline to a national service.

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Meanwhile, speakers from See Change and the National Office of Suicide Prevention have been invited to talk at each of the IFA's 29 county executives meetings over the coming months.

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