Farmers urged to seek mental health support on Blue Monday – and beyond
15th January 2024
Although Blue Monday has been officially named the gloomiest day of the year, help is available every day for farmers who face mental health problems.
The Farming Community Network (FCN) is one of a number of organisations that aim to support farmers and their families through difficult times. Simply talking about your problems is often the first step towards improved mental wellbeing.
However, the stigma surrounding mental health, especially within the farming community, does not help when it comes to asking for help. Also, farmers generally do not discuss their issues with a friend or relative, as they don’t wish to become a burden. The FCN is available for anybody who would like to discuss their issues in confidence and without judgement.
Look after your health all year round
The head of communications and development at The Farming Community Network, Alex Phillimore, said: “This time of year can be difficult for some, from the cold and wet weather to the pressure that can come with starting a new year and planning ahead. It is important that we look after our health and wellbeing throughout the whole year and support one another.
“We encourage anyone who could benefit from a friendly chat to contact The Farming Community Network in confidence on 03000 111 999 or email@example.com. Our volunteers understand farming life and its unique pressures and can talk to you about any worries or concerns.”
You Are Not Alone
YANA, You Are Not Alone – Rural Mental Health Support charity, published a plan of action for stress and depression among farmers, available on its website. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of depression, talk to someone you trust. You might find that sharing your experience can help you feel better. If you are not able to talk to someone close to you, YANA can give you confidential help.
What to do next? The best thing is talk to your own doctor – it’s best if a health professional makes the diagnosis of depression. Your symptoms might have another cause. Visit your GP promptly. Like any other illness, depression may become worse if left untreated.
Depression is not unusual and your GP can provide support, referral to counselling, psychotherapy or medication. Next step is ensuring that you understand your treatment. Take any medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you are unsure or do not feel that you are getting better, go back again. Remember that modern day antidepressants are not addictive, although you should not stop taking them suddenly or without the advice of your doctor.
Also, more understanding of poor mental health can help you manage better. Talk to family, friends or colleagues and do not feel embarrassed about admitting that you might be experiencing symptoms of depression. It is far more common than you may think.
YANA’s spokesperson said: “Remember that its normal to experience lows, bad days, and feelings of depression, when it lasts for 14 days or more then its time to ask for help. The earlier help is ought, the easier it can be to recover. Because you are struggling now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever, good help is available, please make use of it.”
YANA provides help anyone who works in agriculture, any related profession/job or rural business. By calling the YANA helpline you can speak to someone who really understands the industry and its problems. YANA provides unique support and advice from counsellors for the broad agricultural community.
The charity has been seeing continual increases for requests for help year on year. It has had over 150% more requests for help in the last three years, and that continues to grow.
Which farming sector is the most stressful?
The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) carried out the Big Farming Survey to research the health and wellbeing of the farming community in England and Wales in the 2020s. RABI offers guidance, financial support, and practical care to farming people of all ages.
Based upon widely recognised thresholds in the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, over a third of respondents of the survey (36%) had mental wellbeing scores that are sufficiently low to cause concern. 15% of respondents were possibly depressed. Over one in five (21%) were probably depressed, based upon threshold points used by the NHS.
Collected data also indicates almost half of the farming community (47%) experience some form of anxiety. Although mental health is a pressing concern across the agricultural industry, there was a relationship between people’s mental health and the sector of farming they are involved in. The farming community was most likely to report poor mental health in four sectors of agriculture: specialist pigs, dairy, Less Favoured Areas (LFA) grazing livestock, and lowland grazing livestock.
The prevalence of depression and anxiety was reported to be lower in some types of farming. Over two-thirds of those working in cereals, general cropping (both 70%), and horticulture (67%) were likely not experiencing depression. People farming in these areas are also less likely to experience moderate or severe anxiety.
RABI helpline: call 0800 188 4444 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
FCN helpline: call 03000 111 999
RSABI helpline: call 0808 1234 555 or email email@example.com