According to South Somerset Mind, mental health issues affect 1 in 3 farmers – meaning that, within this cohort, rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse are higher than in the general population. However, despite this, there still remains a huge stigma amongst these kinds of communities, meaning that many individuals feel they cannot open up about their struggles.
Poorer pay for those within the farming industry, combined with the effects of disappointing crop yields and pressure to supply cheaply to large industries can make this once prosperous livelihood extremely stressful. Lower incomes, long hours and rising costs are just some of the things which likely contribute to the increasing number of farmers being diagnosed with mental health issues on a daily basis. But, with all these things to contend with, how can these individuals possibly make time to seek advice and improve their mental health?
Despite rising numbers of diagnoses, these kinds of issues within the farming population are not new, and have been something which have affected individuals for a number of generations. Often, the isolating nature of this kind of work can mean that individuals do not feel as comfortable as they should talking to those close to them about mental health concerns, especially in the case of older generations.
However, with each new day we see small steps towards a more accepting and understanding view of mental health within this community. The rising numbers of diagnoses we are witnessing, although at first may seem strikingly negative, highlights how individuals within these communities are becoming more and more comfortable about coming forward and expressing concerns regarding their mental health. This is a huge step for farming communities and something that we should all be proud of, as this new found acceptance of mental health issues is bringing individuals closer to seeking the help they need, and getting back to feeling themselves. In previous generations, although diagnoses for mental health complaints may have been lower within this community, it is likely that many were suffering in silence – something which we hope no one should have to do in the future.
Possible treatments for mental health issues have also greatly improved in recent years. While there were times when any complaint would be responded to by prescribing anti-depressant or other drugs, there is now a lean more towards talking therapies, which can help individuals to learn how to deal with mental health issues independently. Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) work on the basis that they equip individuals with the tools they need to manage their own mental health – such that these individuals can remain the strong, independent people that they are.
For individuals in occupations such as farming, which involve long and often anti-social hours, new technology now means that seeking mental health advice doesn’t need to interfere with everyday life. Dr Julian provides just one example of technology advancing towards better mental health for farmers. The Dr Julian app allows individuals to book therapy sessions through their phone or smart device, and receive top-rated treatments and advice from the comfort of their own homes, even outside of usual office hours. Through smart video technology, farmers and others who work long or difficult hours can receive mental health advice via video call, with results proven to be just as good as seeing a therapist in person. This service is ideal for those within the farming community, as it fits with busy work schedules, whilst remaining just as private and confidential as more traditional methods.
With new technology advances and reduced stigma surrounding mental health, the future for individuals within the farming community is looking bright. Seeking mental health advice is
something which no one should ever be ashamed to do, and thanks to individuals within this community, suffering in silence is becoming a thing of the past. If you or someone you know is struggling, speak up, and together we can beat depression, anxiety and stress within this community. Talk to someone. Talk to us. End the mental health stigma in the farming community for good.
Source: Dr julian