Comment: Help is on hand at toughest of times

Philippa Coultish is chairman of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network which is based at The Regional Agricultural Centre, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.
Philippa Coultish is chairman of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network which is based at The Regional Agricultural Centre, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.
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FARMERS IN Yorkshire are under pressure. There is no doubt about this and it is causing serious concern in the farming community because of the effect this can have on both physical and mental health.­­­­­­­­

Talking to someone can save lives whoever that may be and The Farming Community Network (FCN) and RABI are here to do just that. It is important to confront problems as early as possible rather than waiting for things to come to a head and get out of control.

The Farming Help Charities are available for the whole of the community, whether young or old, male or female, to support and help during difficult times. The confidential and free helplines are answered by real people who will listen carefully and take appropriate information before referring the details to local help and support for the caller.

Friends, family and those visiting farms including agronomists, vets and mechanics or agricultural suppliers may have concerns or worries about a farmer, farm worker or family member and they are also encouraged to suggest seeking help from the Farming Help Charities or offer to contact the helplines on their behalf.

Current problems in the industry are reported in detail on a daily basis and the impact of constant negative news coupled with all the very real challenges within many farming business can become too much. No-one is immune from this kind of sustained pressure and we all cope differently.

Many people feel well supported by their family and friends and get through the hard times together whereas others feel very isolated and keep their troubles to themselves. Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees and having someone to talk to is invaluable – whether it’s a family member, friend or someone completely independent and a conversation can make a huge difference.

Once problems are identified, they can be tackled step by step with non-judgemental support for as long as it takes. The charities work very closely together in Yorkshire in the hope that they can get the best outcomes for those needing help.

RABI’s welfare officers report that people who come to them in extreme difficulty are talking more openly about suicide than ever before. We do not know whether this is a sign of how desperate people are, or a more positive indication that they are more receptive to help.

Many farm businesses are under financial pressure for a variety of reasons and working to ever-tighter margins to meet buyers’ demands. We will listen to and support someone in general difficulty in any way we can, but in cases where mental health and suicide is an issue we will usually ask if we may contact someone from the Farming Community Network (FCN) on their behalf, as their area of expertise is pastoral care, the Samaritans, and/or a mental health professional.

We are acutely aware that the ripple effect of every suicide spreads far and wide and affects the whole family and the wider community.

Philippa Coultish is chairman of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network which is based at The Regional Agricultural Centre, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.

FCN helpline: 03000 111 999 (7am to 11pm daily), RABI helpline: 0808 281 9490 (Office hours).