The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has partnered with AXA and Agriland Media Group for an innovative campaign to promote greater awareness of farm safety.

Farm safety includes taking care of not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Life on the farm can be demanding and it is normal to feel under stress from time to time. However, prolonged periods of stress, as well as increasing the risk of illnesses such as heart disease and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, can increase the risk of an injury on the farm.

Stress needs to be managed to stay healthy and we all work better when not under stress.

Mental health

Loneliness and isolation can also have a significant impact on a farmer’s mental health, especially older farmers, and can make some problems seem impossible to solve.

However, there is always hope and it is important to get away from the farm where possible, even for short periods to go to a match, for a walk, or a cup of tea and a chat with a neighbour.

Most people will need some extra support at some time in their life. It is important not to feel ashamed about this and to reach out and seek support if you need it.

The old saying that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is very true when it comes to dealing with stress and mental health – talk to someone about your difficulties and you will find ways to deal with the stressors. It is important not to delay reaching out for help.

Getting the support you need

If you have concerns about your well-being or that of another person you are best advised to contact your family doctor or one of the several organisations that provide support to people under pressure including farmers.

One such organisation is Samaritans, which is the only 24-hour emotional support helpline covering the island of Ireland. Samaritans’ volunteers are there any time, from any phone, on 116 123 or email [email protected]. The number also won’t show in a phone bill.

Because Samaritans is an anonymous service it is a safe space which often allows people to share honestly what they are feeling and going through with someone neutral and anonymous.

You don’t have to feel suicidal to contact Samaritans. Samaritans provides support to anyone in distress, lonely, struggling to cope or suicidal.

People reach out for many reasons including loneliness and isolation, depression, relationship and family problems, bereavement, financial worries, job-related stress, bullying and disabling physical illness or pain, and the cost of living.

Organisations out there

There are a number of other organisations which also help people deal with stress and other mental health problems. Some provide support which is specifically targeted at members of the farming and rural community.

Embrace FARM is a support network, the first of its kind in Ireland, which offers multiple emotional, practical and advisory supports for those who are bereaved by farm incidents or serious and sudden illnesses, along with people who have survived serious life-changing or disabling accidents as a result of agricultural work. Embrace FARM can be contacted at 085 7709966

The Aware Support Line service is a free service and is available to anyone aged 18 years and over who is seeking support and information about issues relating to their own mood or the mood of a friend or family member, or who experiences depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.

The Aware volunteer can help you to identify helpful options and actions which are available to you at the time of the call. The number for the Aware Support Line is; 1800 80 48 48

Mental Health Ireland information line – 01 284 1166 – promotes positive mental health, supporting people with lived experience of mental health challenges in their recovery and bringing practical expression to national policy objectives.

Pieta is a 24/7 crisis helpline for people who are in suicidal distress, those who engage in self-harm, and those bereaved by suicide. Pieta can be contacted at freephone 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444. To avail of Pieta’s professional one-to-one therapeutic services, call 0818 111 126.

Helping others

If you’re worried about someone and want to ask how they are, give them the space to talk, ask open questions, listen to what they say, and let them know you’re there for them. But make sure you have support too if you’re helping a friend.

There is always a way through problems.

Remember that no matter what the issue is, with the time and space to talk things through, you can find a way through your problems.

Reach out for support to help you to explore your options, so you can make decisions that are right for you. These organisations are there to listen to you and to help you to find the best way forward. Act now.