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Promoting Positive Mental Health among Farmers

Promoting Positive Mental Health among Farmers

Mental Health Awareness is today's Farm Safety Week theme. Farmers live in constantly changing times with possibilities of farming problems and many issues that can cause stress and associated mental health challenges. John McNamara, Teagasc Health & Safety Specialist discusses managing stress here

Farmers live in constantly changing times with possibilities of farming problems such as excessive rainfall, drought, fodder shortage and associated financial issues. There are many issues in farming that can cause stress and associated mental health challenges.  Individual circumstances can arise which lead to stress and follow-on Mental Health.

What is Stress? 

Stress is your body’s way of responding to a demand that makes you feel threatened or upsets your balance. When working properly, stress helps you to stay focused, energetic, and alert. However, beyond a certain point, it stops being helpful and starts causing damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships and quality of life. Anyone can suffer from stress.

Major Stressors

Major stressors among farmers include farm finances, dealing with paperwork, poor farm work conditions such as poor safety standards, excessive workload and poor health. Farmer health and mental health are inter-related and need to be promoted jointly. This should be done in association with managing your farm.  

Visit your GP if you feel under stress or in poor health.

Managing Stress in Farming

Social Involvement is crucial: - Talk to trusted family members, neighbour and friends. - Discuss farming problems with your Agricultural Advisor. Discussing problems allows solution to emerge and to help managing stress.  Farming and sporting organisations perform valuable social networks in rural Ireland.

Health related goals: - Have a regular health check-up with a G.P. Exercise regularly; being physically active is a key approach to stress management. Farm work activity can lead to ‘strength’ but not ‘aerobic fitness’, required for cardiovascular health. Eat a balanced diet.  

Farming: - Examine your farm for hazards and remove them. - Work organisation is crucial to avoid long hours, rushing and injury. - Examine the profitability of your farm-complete a profit monitor. - Check the length of your working day as excessively long working days can lead to isolation.

Leisure: - Take time out every day for relaxation, leisure, and meeting-up with people. - Take regular breaks and a holiday regularly from farming. These allow your mind to refresh itself.

Further Information

The H.S.A. in conjunction with the Farm Safety Partnership recently published and launched.  The Video features George Graham discussing dealing with his mental health problems along with Finola Colgan, Mental Health Ireland discussing maintaining Mental Health.

HSA Booklet: Farmers Health and Wellbeing and Teagasc publication: Positive Mental Health in Farming 

Watch the HSA Video below on Mental Health and Wellbeing in Farming


#FarmSafetyWeek runs from July 18th - 22nd. Check out Teagasc Daily all this week for further updates

Learn more about Farm Health & Safety from Teagasc