THE ‘Protect The Asset That Is You’ campaign has until now concentrated primarily on the physical issues that can impact those in the agri-sector.
Christina Faulkner, Farm Families Programme Co-ordinator with the Northern Trust, and Veronica Morris, Chief Executive of Rural Support, have now turned the focus onto the importance of our mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Christina said: “Until now we have been concentrating on our physical health, but we also want you to think about how you are feeling every day, as how we feel emotionally is just as important as how we are physically.
“One in four people in Northern Ireland will experience problems that affect their mental health, with this statistic known to be higher in the farming community.
“Farming can sometimes be a lonely, frustrating, and stressful occupation and that combined with life’s ups and downs can really take their toll. It can be anything from the farm business being closed with TB and being unable to sell stock, finances mounting up, bad weather, long hours, family disputes or relationship problems.
“All these factors can add up and affect how we feel in a negative way, and sometimes we all need a bit of help to get us over these hurdles.”
Veronica said: “Farming in today’s ever-changing environment can be tough and at times overwhelming. Overthinking, not taking care of yourself physically and dwelling on things outside your control can make it worse.
“Rural Support can help you to navigate challenges in your farm business as well as looking at options to help you manage your way through difficult times and move forward with confidence.
“And when things are at their toughest, including at times of bereavement and loss, Rural Support also provide emotional support and counselling for you and your family.”
If you are simply not feeling yourself, feeling stressed, reaching out to talk to someone you trust can really make a difference.
Speaking of his own personal experience, Adam Watson, a farmer from Macosquin, near Coleraine, said: “Multiple things really started to build up on me a few years ago and eventually I did reach out for help to my family and friends and that really helped me. So, I would definitely say if you are feeling overwhelmed to speak to someone.
“The Farm Families Health Checks Nurses are there for you to speak to confidentially and offer support or help you get the right support, including onward referral to various services, including Rural Support.”
As well as protecting the asset that is you, we also should look out for those around us too. It is okay to ask “Are you okay?” You might not have all the answers but by asking the question it could be all that someone needs to help them open up or to get help elsewhere.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact the Rural Support Line on 0800 138 1678 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm) and a member of the team will be able to guide you.
There are also a range of mental health support services available, and you can find a list of support services in your local area at www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/directory-services-help-improve-mental-health-and-emotional-wellbeing