November 15, 2011

New help for stressed out farmers

[Posted: Mon 14/11/2011 by Deborah Condon]

A new information leaflet, aimed at helping farmers cope with stress, has been launched.

‘Let's Talk' has been produced by the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) to help farmers who are coping with stressful situations and reduce the sigma associated with mental health issues.

The leaflet contains information on the signs of stress, as well as coping mechanisms. It also emphasises the effect stress can have on overall farm safety.

According to Margaret Healy of the IFA, the main causes of stress among farmers and their families are financial problems, increased regulation, long working hours and unpredictable working conditions.

"The last few years have been very tough for many farm families, due to falling farm incomes, with many farms now trying to sustain extra people due to the loss of off-farm incomes, as well as heavy debt burdens," she explained.

She added that a lack of dedicated services for rural communities was ‘compounding mental health problems', and called for a national expansion of the Farm and Rural Stress Helpline (1800 742 645). This service is currently only aimed at people in the Cork and Kerry region.

"The expansion of the helpline to a national service would be a very positive and cost-effective way to address the problem," Ms Healy insisted.