Mental Health – an unspoken illness

As a business that is both in daily dialogue with the farming community and with many of our own team hailing from agricultural backgrounds, Mental Health Awareness Week has a particular significance. Here, Amy Stinton, from our consultancy team, gives her take on the challenges faced by the sector.

It’s mental health awareness week and the timing couldn’t be more appropriate, as we are in the middle of a global pandemic that is affecting every individual. People are spending much more time alone, facing financial pressures and all future plans have been cancelled.

The lack of face to face meetings in the current situation can also mean that mental health can go unidentified. So, it is more important than ever that we keep talking to friends and family, as unfortunately the barrier still remains, and people often do not talk about it or admit they may be suffering.

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This can especially be the case in the agricultural sector, as it is a lifestyle as well as career and unfortunately it still seems to be one of the industries that suffers the most, but why is this the case?

Farmers in the UK are renowned for devoting their life to their livestock, crops and machinery, but it appears they are not so good at taking care of themselves and their own

There are several factors that can contribute to mental health within agriculture. Farmers often work long hours in isolation and agricultural events are a key date in the diary and with these gatherings now cancelled across the board, farmers are going to miss that prime opportunity to catch up with friends and contacts.

In addition, the farm is often the farmer’s place of work and their home, making it difficult for them to get away from the stresses at work.

They are also often price takers and therefore they are constantly vulnerable to changes in supply and demand whether it be weather, natural disasters or changes in trade
agreements. This can lead to significant financial pressure, as substantial debt can be taken on to purchase land and equipment that is required for the business to continue to move forward – with no guarantee of the price they will receive. Farming banner Another reoccurring problem in farming families is succession. Farmers are often ‘cash poor and asset rich’ and this can place significant pressure on them to make the correct decisions, to protect the farm and their family for the future. Often farms can be in the family for several generations and this increases the burden put on farmers.
With mental health being one of the biggest dangers that the industry faces, let’s spread the word and talk about it, so that as an industry we tackle this problem that is affecting so many lives. There is support out there for people who are suffering such as RABI, the rural chaplaincy and Mind and it is important we encourage people to utilise this. Here at Pinstone we are proud to support Herefordshire Mind by undertaking several fundraising events throughout
the year.

The Yana project is another charity who is dedicated to promoting mental health awareness amongst the farming community and their take-home message is:

‘Depression is an illness – NOT a weakness’

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