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New measures to help tackle farm suicide hotspots launched

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Minister of State Martin Heydon. Photo: Tom Burke

Minister of State Martin Heydon. Photo: Tom Burke

Minister of State Martin Heydon. Photo: Tom Burke

Two new farmer mental health and wellbeing tools were launched at the Teagasc Beef 2022 open day, which took place in Grange, Co Meath on Tuesday.

The resources have been developed by the Health and Safety Authority’s Farm Safety Partnership working group, with support from the Department of Agriculture.

A new guide has been developed to tackle issues such as getting enough physical activity, eating healthy and coping with stress.

As well as this, a new video was launched on the day, detailing the mental health challenges faced by Wexford sheep and cattle farmer George Graham.

The third generation shearer has represented Ireland 11 times in world championships and in the clip he explains that the first step in seeking help is the hardest, but most vital towards recovery.

“It’s probably the worst place you ever could be. The better way of describing it is like going through a long, dark, twisty and narrow tunnel. It can be very steep in places,” George said.

“It’s difficult to get through that tunnel on your own, but if you can keep going you will get through that tunnel and the closer you get to the end there is a light there, and that light will get brighter and brighter.”

The Farming Independent asked the Minister with responsibility for farm safety how regions of the country, where farm related suicides become prevalent, can be aided.

“One of things I wanted to do when I became Minister with responsibility for farm safety was to use the EIP model, which is funding community groups from the ground up,” Minister of State Martin Heydon said.

“I managed to secure €1.8m in successive budgets to fund eight projects which are going through the launching process now.

“Some of these are in Cork where they are working on different areas of farmers' health and wellbeing, safety, and succession.”

The Minister explained that while the European Innovation Partnership schemes may focus on challenges farmers are facing in one region of the country, the learnings and support will be applicable on a national scale.

“The challenges that farmers face aren’t a whole lot different from Ballina to Bunclody and we just have to make sure that the measures we put in place can be scaled up in time,” Minister Heydon said.

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