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February 14, 2019

Mental health issues affecting farmers in Northern Ireland

Mental health issues affecting farmers in Northern Ireland

Rural Support, a mental health charity in Northern Ireland, reports that hundreds of farmers in Northern Ireland are dealing with mental health problems.

In his article, The economics of mental health, Richard Layard writes: “Mental health is a major factor in national economies both because mental illness is so common and because it is so disabling…For a typical country, nearly one in five adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness.”

The charity reports that farmers experiencing mental health issues are often also experiencing financial problems. Rural Support chief executive, Jude McCann, commented: “Farmers are very proud, very independent, and to admit to mental health issues is something that not many people do freely…We need more people talking about it. We need farmers to talk about how they have dealt with their own depression, anxiety, mental health issues, so that other people feel comfortable coming out and talking about it.”

Indeed, research conducted by the Farm Safety Foundation finds that 81% of farmers under the age of 40 say mental health issues are the “biggest hidden problem” facing farmers today. The foundation stresses that farmers are constantly vulnerable to unpredictable circumstances that can impact their stress levels, from the weather to national uncertainties like Brexit.

Part of the solution, Layard argues, is increasing the availability and the use of psychological therapies to help people with a mental illness. “Therapy boosts both employment and output, with gains exceeding the cost of treatment,” writes Layard.

This week is "Mind Your Head" week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues among farmers.

Read more articles about health and well-being.