Nine times out of 10 just talking can solve problems

Pat Cusack believes that the macho psyche of farmers and the nature of the work leaves them even more vulnerable to the mental pressures of life.

"Farmers and their families make up 25pc of all the cases that I deal with," he says.

"They still believe that they shouldn't display much emotion or the strain that they are under because of the male culture and pride that dominates farming. It's this idea of soldiering on, no matter what. This just compounds and deepens the pain and means that if and when a farmer comes to us, it's often very late in the day.

"The fact that so many farmers spend so much of their time working alone means that there isn't as much opportunity for others to pick up on the warning signs.

"And often it's hard for the person themselves to realise just how serious the situation has become, because depression takes you by stealth.

"I saw farmers go through serious hardship last winter. It was soul destroying for them to have to queue up at Lakelands depots at Lough Egish and Killeshandra to get a few bales to try to keep animals alive.

"There were grown men crying. These guys were putting the animals' health ahead of their own, which worsens the load.

"Pressure on people has really ratcheted up over the last two or three years because of the pressure with bank loans, reducing Single Farm Payments and horrendous weather.

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"The repercussions from last winter will take at least another year to settle down again," he said.

VULNERABLE

"Young people are as vulnerable as any other group, especially now that the nicksers that were there during the good times are all gone.

"Again it comes back to the farm, and the wounded pride of guys who feel that they've failed to keep the enterprise viable or build it up."

Despite the challenges, Pat Cusack is convinced that every case is fixable.

"The reason I do this job is because I see all the wonderful results we achieve. Just talking about the problem sorts out things nine times out of 10.

"The taboo of ending up in the mental hospital frightens many off from opening up but again I come back to the point that it's ok not to be ok. Know that there is help out there and it can be fixed," he said.

Irish Independent


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