Support is out there for anyone who is struggling - Jill Thorp reflects on farming's mental health

Many of the days and weeks of the calendar are now marked opportunities to acknowledge an event, to be more aware of our health and to raise much-needed monies for various charities.

No-one has to go through things alone farming help charities are there to listen

Whether it be Stoptober, Farm Safety Week, World Suicide Prevention Day or National Fitness Day, the aim is to raise awareness, show support and hopefully make a difference.

Last week saw World Mental Health Day followed by Agricultural Mental Health Week. I took time out to read about the many different groups and charities that have formed in order to offer advice and support to those suffering.

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I also listened to many different stories, some left me horrified, some I could relate to and others left me with tears rolling down my cheeks. So much despair, worry, stress and unending hopelessness. The statistics made for a chilling read. 88 per cent of farmers under the age of 40 rank poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing the industry.

Like many others, we have had our own share of desperate times. Long hours, sometimes days without interacting with another person can leave you feeling terribly alone. The endless debt which triggers a whole raft of what seem like insurmountable issues.

There is never a smooth ride, a down time when you can recharge your batteries. The ever-changing climate which can of course make or break your entire year, endless diseases to battle with, test for and treat, not to mention the absurd amount of red tape farmers now face are all contributing factors.

The lack of public support and ‘anti-meat agenda’ adding to the already overwhelming stress faced by farmers up and down the country. I was shocked to read some of the responses to my writings, which only served to highlight my point.

“Tough! People don’t want your over-priced products anymore. People have had enough of the damage you farmers do” and so on. With this type of negative and blinkered response is it any wonder our industry is at breaking point.

Amidst all the despair and dwindling hope for future farmers, there is of course a whole host of wonderful, dedicated men and women out there who can help. With organisations such as the Farming Community Network and Yana (You are not alone) there is someone just a phone call away.

The British stiff upper lip and tough-as-old-boots mentality should never prevent someone from reaching out and saying “I think I need help”. Not easy words to utter, especially for many men who are still so unfairly regarded as the stronger sex, capable of coping with anything that life throws at them.

Sadly, mental health still has a terrible stigma attached to it. I hope if you see someone struggling, worried, anxious or not coping, please reach out, a chat, a hug or just an ear to listen.

And if you are that person, remember, problems can be resolved and our door is always open.

Every life has value and hope...