Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Soaring stress levels see farmers turn to Samaritans for guidance

Pic: Stock image
Pic: Stock image

Martin Ryan

The stress levels within the farming sector have been described as an "eye opener" as the Samaritans field a flood of calls.

The regional director of the help group said it has been inundated with calls to volunteers for guidance and assistance.

John Downey, a director of the Limerick branch, said the organisation was now receiving an average of more than 11,500 calls a week.

"Many of them are coming from farmers who appear to be under more stress than ever before," said Mr Downey. "The increase in the number of calls we are now receiving from farmers and the stresses that they are under is an eye-opener for me."

Addressing a meeting of IFA members, he said they had now reached the stage where they had to stop advertising the service as they did not have enough volunteers to man the phonelines for the volume of calls. "But we are still encouraging people going through a difficult patch to call us and we will listen to them and try to guide them," he said.

The IFA's farm family chair, Maura Canning, said the organisation was aware of the increase in stress and it has become a "real problem".

IFA's family and rural affairs chair. Maura Canning.
IFA's family and rural affairs chair. Maura Canning.

She urged any farmer who felt they needed help to reach out and call the IFA and they would try to direct them to the best place for assistance.

Mr Downey said with the stress involved in meeting with compliance and regulations in farming today, he was not surprised at the increase in calls.

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"The effect of isolation on rural communities, including farmers, has become a bigger issue. Farmers don't have the same opportunities as in the past for socialising and sharing their problems, and we are missing that. Now the local pub is gone as a place to meet and socialise because of drink-driving regulations, it is adding to the isolation," said Mr Downey.

Indo Farming