The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
Help for farmers struggling with mental health issues
CAMPAIGN: NHS and NFUS team up to highlight help available to rural workers
Farmers and crofters who are stressed or finding it difficult to cope have been reminded of the help available to them.
The NHS has teamed up with NFU Scotland (NFUS) to raise awareness of the support available for stress, anxiety and depression.
As part of Mental Health Week 2017 running at the moment, the two organisations are promoting the Know Who To Turn To campaign.
The campaign launched in February following a survey of 250 farmers at last year’s Turriff Show by NHS Grampian’s healthy working lives team.
The survey revealed almost half wanted more support and information about stress, anxiety and depression.
NFUS regional manager for the north-east, Lorna Paterson said: “Our members often face challenging financial pressures, as well as spending long hours – often entire days – working alone.
“That can be a tough combination to handle and it’s only natural for it to sometimes have a negative effect on a person’s mental wellbeing.
“If people ignore the early signs of stress, depression or anxiety, it can have really serious repercussions.”
She said the campaign was especially important because suicide rates among farmers were the highest in any occupational group in the country.
“The harsh reality is that access to highly lethal means, such as firearms, poisonous chemicals and heavy machinery, results in a large proportion of suicide attempts by farmers being fatal,” added Ms Paterson.
“We’d strongly encourage any farmer who is feeling stressed or finding difficulty in coping, to get the support they need.
“Please do speak to your local group secretary or regional manager, and they will be able to suggest best options to seek support.”
Chris Littlejohn, interim deputy director of public health at NHS Grampian, said he hoped the Know Who To Turn To campaign would help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the farming community.
He said: “Unfortunately, all too often, people don’t seek out the help and support they need because of a reluctance to discuss it.
“Not seeking support when stress first emerges can lead to the situation becoming far more serious.
“We are also hoping that the campaign will help to reduce the stigma which can still surround mental health in the farming community.”