Farmers urged to take Action on Stress Awareness Day

Rural Support Chief Executive Jude McCann
Rural Support Chief Executive Jude McCann

Local charity, Rural Support has issued advice to Northern Ireland’s farming community ahead of Stress Awareness Day today (Wednesday 1st November) in a bid to alleviate stress.

Recent research from the charity revealed that the majority of farmers who were experiencing financial difficulties displayed dangerous levels of stress which is adversely affecting their mental health.

There have also been concerns recently regarding the pressure farmers were being put under to make the slurry deadline in October, given the recent adverse weather conditions in Northern Ireland.

Rural Support has also recognised the additional financial stress created by the increase in the price of fodder and animal feed.

Following the research findings and in light of the current challenges in the agricultural community, Rural Support is urging farmers to look after their mind and body and is reassuring the farming community that help is available through the charity’s services such as its confidential helpline and on-farm business support.

Rural Support Chief Executive, Jude McCann commented: “Farm life involves long hours and can be very stressful. Dealing with current issues, such as the slurry deadline or increasing price of fodder and animal feed, while planning for the future can lead to high levels of stress, negatively impacting on mental and physical health.

“Our Stress Awareness Day message is to keep your body and mind in good health and to watch out for the signs of stress that include trouble with sleeping, irritability, frequent colds and feeling like you are at the end of your tether. If you see or feel these signs, our advice is to take notice and take action - help is available. Rural Support’s helpline number is 0845 606 7 607 and we can help with issues that are stressful or upsetting.”

National Stress Awareness Day takes place on Wednesday 1st November and aims to highlight the issue of stress, its impact on mental health and ways to manage it effectively.

Rural Support is also facilitating The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, an initiative that has been rolled out across the UK to help family farm businesses. There is now a waiting list for the groups in Enniskillen and Antrim but Rural Support hopes to coordinate more groups in the future.

Since 2002, Rural Support has been helping farming and rural families across Northern Ireland on a wide range of issues from finance and debt issues, succession planning concerns, physical and mental health issues, farming paperwork, technical and enterprise issues.

Rural Support’s trained staff, volunteers and highly experienced mentors provide support both face-to-face or via a confidential helpline.  The charity can help to analyse current farm business positions, identify options and explore possible ways forward.  If you do require assistance or are experiencing a challenging period, you are encouraged to contact Rural Support as early as possible so that options can be explored.

For more information on Rural Support and their services visit: www.ruralsupport.org.uk