Farming is a highly pressured, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week job, with hardly any time off or away from the farm.
Farmers typically spend long hours working in isolation with little or no human contact and it’s common for farmers to work entire days and not see anyone.
If you are under any sort of pressure, this isolation can lead to feelings of increased loneliness and can allow for mental health problems to fester.
Isolation can be a year round problem for farmers, but the winter months can bring additional hardships which can impact on emotional wellbeing and mental health. The fact too that farmers are dealing with uncertain times and circumstances which are often outside of their control such as market prices, risk of animal disease and unpredictable weather conditions can lead to increased feelings of hopelessness.
Symptoms of stress include disturbed sleep patterns, changes in appetite, unexplainable aches and pains and it can lead to depression. You may have difficulty with concentration or memory and you might appear irritable or agitated. Sometimes you might use alcohol or drugs to relax and may feel overwhelmed and isolated. Often telling friends or family can seem impossible. A person who is isolated and dealing with these types of symptoms combined with a sense of hopelessness can be at risk of suicide. Most farmers are male and men are statistically more likely to take their lives than women. As we know men are less likely to discuss their problems, they tend to bottle it up.
In order to deal with stress, we need to look after ourselves and this means eating well, sleeping well, being active, taking time out for ourselves and asking for help. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It’s recognition that we don’t have to and can’t solve every challenge by ourselves.
If you are struggling, for whatever reason, you are encourage you to call the Rural Support helpline now on 0845 606 7 607. The helpline is available from 8am-11pm, seven days a week (voicemail and support options available at all other times). Support is free and completely confidential.