Karen van Evelingen is an Accounts Advisor and Mental Health First Aider at Cornish Mutual. Karen is on hand to advise our team on issues relating to mental health and wellbeing.
Thursday 6th February is Time to Talk Day, an annual event to encourage people to open up about their mental health. Despite growing awareness of the importance of maintaining good mental wellbeing, it remains a topic that many people are reluctant to discuss.
“How are you?” When asked this question the response is often: “I’m fine”.
Are you more likely to tell someone if you have hurt your arm or leg than you are to share how you are feeling emotionally?
Our mental health, including our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing can vary from day-to-day. However, most of us pay more attention to our physical, rather than our mental wellbeing, which is interesting as the two are closely linked.
Farmers and mental health
Speaking to farmers at my local farmers’ market, agricultural workers are passionate about taking care of their livestock and crops, but they are usually too busy to look after themselves.
Working in agriculture involves working long days, often in isolation, so it is challenging to achieve a good work-life balance.
Alongside long working hours, farmers rely heavily on the weather to determine how successful their season will be. Unpredictable or challenging weather can create stress and financial pressure, all of which affects our mental health.
According to statistics released by the Farm Safety Foundation, 81 per cent of farmers aged 40 and under believe that mental ill health is the biggest hidden problem facing the sector. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that stress, depression and anxiety are among the main causes of work-related ill health.
Maintaining good mental wellbeing
There are a number of steps we can take to maintain good mental health. These include:
- Getting enough sleep,
- Eating a well-balanced diet,
- Making time for activities we enjoy,
- Spending time with family and friends and maintaining our emotional connections with people we feel close to and who understand what makes us tick.
- The most important thing to remember is: you are not alone. It is only when we talk about our mental health that we begin to realise, that there is always someone, somewhere, experiencing similar challenges and emotions that we are facing.
There are a number of organisations that can provide help and support to members of the farming community:
- The Farming Community Network (FCN) is a voluntary organisation that supports farmers and their families through difficult times.
- The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) is a charity which provides financial support, practical care and guidance to farmers, farmworkers and dependants.
- The Samaritans offers emotional support 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year for anyone who is struggling to cope