Help on the end of the phone

The Galloway News - - FARMING REVIEW - Jackie Grant

Health and safety on farms takes many dif­fer­ent forms and one which is too of­ten ig­nored is men­tal health and well­be­ing.

Agri­cul­ture is an in­dus­try which has a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with good men­tal health and the will­ing­ness to seek help for it. That is why this year’s Farm Safety Week in­cluded a day high­light­ing the im­por­tance of good men­tal health and well­be­ing and who those work­ing in agri­cul­ture can speak to if they need help.

In the UK, one farmer com­mits sui­cide ev­ery week. This is a stark and damn­ing fig­ure and if you con­sid­ered adding it to the fig­ures for ‘fa­tal in­juries on farms’ you would see that num­ber more than dou­ble.

The cases of farm­ers suf­fer­ing from men­tal health is­sues do not have to end trag­i­cally, there are places to go to and peo­ple to speak to.

In a con­fi­den­tial case study, pro­vided by agri­cul­tural char­ity the Royal Scot­tish Agri­cul­tural Benev­o­lent In­sti­tu­tion - RSABI - ‘Adam’ was suf­fer­ing from stress when his em­ployer urged him to con­tact RSABI.

Adam is in his for­ties and lives with his wife and young daugh­ter and has been em­ployed in agri­cul­ture his en­tire work­ing life.

Af­ter con­tact­ing RSABI, Adam was vis­ited by a case of­fi­cer who lis­tened to the is­sues and both her and Adam looked at the fam­ily’s fi­nances and dis­cussed the op­tions that may be avail­able for him to pur­sue.

He said: “RSABI pointed me in the right di­rec­tion.

“The help and sup­port I have re­ceived from RSABI has made such a big dif­fer­ence to me and my fam­ily. Know­ing there is some­one there to talk to has helped my stress lev­els too.”

Mags Granger, RSABI Wel­fare Man­ager, added: “We lis­ten, that’s the very first thing we do.

“If some­one comes to us di­rectly, we take the op­por­tu­nity to chat, we can of­fer ser­vices if they need coun­selling or they just want one of our case of­fi­cers to go around and visit.

“We talk about any pres­sures and look at any prac­ti­cal help we can give to­wards to al­le­vi­at­ing some of these wor­ries.

“Ap­par­ently, there is quite a large cor­re­la­tion be­tween peo­ple who are suf­fer­ing from a low mood and ac­ci­dents oc­cur­ring. You also might not be as aware of the safety as­pects as your mind is be­ing taken up by other stuff.

“And gen­er­ally, some­times just not get­ting the job done at all it­self can lead to farm safety in­juries.

“Our helpline is open to any­one work­ing within the in­dus­try who needs help. It can be reached on 0300 111 4166.”

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