It might be a real cliché at this point, but 2020 has been a challenge. We’ve had the Coronavirus pandemic, two lockdowns and Brexit looming in the horizon – and that’s on top of the usual stresses of farming and family life!
When things get busy, it's often the case that mental health is overlooked. Which is why we took the opportunity to speak with FCN to find out how you can take care of your mental health this winter and find out more about the work that they do.
What steps can farmers take to take care of their mental health?
- There are many ways you can take care of your mental health and wellbeing. These include exercise, taking breaks, making lists and prioritising tasks, mindfulness, having a healthy diet, getting a good amount of sleep and talking to people. Talking is so important - you do not have to go through things alone if you are overwhelmed or under pressure; talking can help you work out the next steps to take.
What signs should Farmers look out for in their friends/neighbours?
- We would encourage you to keep in contact with your neighbouring farmer, giving them a call every so often to let them know you are there for them should they need support. If you notice anything unusual or are concerned for a farmer, encourage them to call FCN or access the RABI’s online wellbeing service.
- Stress on the farm can often have a negative effect on your mental health, but stress is not always a bad thing. it is important to acknowledge that stress can be productive and performance-enhancing. It will help if you are able to spot the signs of stress to gain better control of coping with your feelings.
- When stress does become unmanageable, it can manifest in different ways. People may be short-tempered, distant, preoccupied, worry a lot or have trouble sleeping. Some people feeling overwhelmed may be more prone to consuming alcohol or other substances that could be harmful to their health.
- Understanding the practical ways you can try and relieve the pressures that are causing the stress and build from that in your emotional intelligence through growing your resilience. Visit Farmwell to find out more about building personal resilience.
What resources are available for the rural community?
- There is the Addington Fund who can help with disaster relief if your farm is severely impacted by certain disease outbreaks or prolonged inclement weather which threaten the ability to feed livestock on a farm. Addington can provide a lifeline by arranging a load of animal feed or fodder to be delivered to the farm. They also provide affordable housing and a retirement home for people in the farming community. For farmworkers in England on a low income, Addington can provide grants towards essential white goods for the home
- The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute can build a relationship with you to make sure you get the support possible. Although a lot of their help is financial, RABI can also offer practical care and guidance. They also have a new online mental wellbeing service which can be used by adults as well as young people.
- The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution supports people involved in Scottish Agriculture emotionally, practically and financially in times of need. The RSABI can provide monthly payments or single grants, but they can also help farmers by helping with welfare benefits, counselling and business reviews.
- The Farming Community Network can help people in the rural community by providing a whole range of services. These range from helping farmers to access payments from the Rural Payments Agency to providing support through health issues such as stress, addiction or accidents. They also run the FarmWell website which contains a one-stop resource to help you and your farm business stay strong and resilient.
How can the FCN help farmers?
- FCN volunteers provide support in a number of ways. These can include support with paperwork, building relationships with bank managers, acting as family mediators and even supporting farmers through legal issues. A common factor in most FCN cases is poor mental health, particularly stress, anxiety and depression. Volunteers will listen to people, provide support and point them in the right direction to aid their recovery. Many within the farming community just need someone who will listen to them. FCN volunteers are on hand to provide a sympathetic ear.
- FCN works with a variety of stakeholders critical to the successful outcome of cases. These include government bodies, agricultural organisations and healthcare services. Volunteers provide support, facilitation and direct links to sympathetic professionals. FCN will ‘walk with’ those in need, helping them find a positive way through their problems.