Mental Health Awareness for Farmers
Raising awareness in the agricultural industry - 5 Important facts you need to know.
- Four fifths of farmers under 40 think mental health is the biggest problem facing the farming sector.
- With the overall illness rate for agricultural workers 46 per cent higher than the industry average, one in four people in farming have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
- Farming is a high-pressure, 24/7 occupation with a lack of days off compared to almost all other professions, and farmers face increasingly difficult market pressures, the risk of disease infecting livestock and the potential of flooding to completely decimate livelihoods.
- Most farmers are male, and men, who less commonly discuss personal problems, are statistically more likely to kill themselves than women. Not seeking support when stress first emerges can lead to the situation becoming much more serious, and can have fatal consequences. Farmers spend long hours working alone with little human contact, which can allow mental health problems and suicidal thoughts to fester. It is common for farmers to do entire days without seeing anyone, and social isolation can lead to a lack of support or a lack of other people noticing mental illness symptoms.
- The most common mental health problem is depression, which one in five members of the public will experience at some point during their lives, and more than 20 per cent of farmers will suffer from. There are major differences between feeling low and “clinical” depression. When the latter develops, the person can be affected most of the time, frequently for a number of weeks or months. Symptoms can include tiredness, restlessness, low mood, falling energy levels, poor concentration, a lack of interest in things that would normally give pleasure and suicidal thoughts. Physical symptoms such as aches or pains may also occur. Nonetheless, it is very treatable, and most people will make a full recovery. The challenge tends to be recognising when you or someone you know is ill and accessing the right support as soon as possible. This tends to particularly be a challenge in the farming community, where farmers often work alone and can be further away from support.
Where can you get help? R.A.B.I – the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution – is farming’s oldest and largest charity on Freephone helpline 08082819490