“Hi, how are you?”
How often do we start conversations like this every day? How often do you say you’re ok, when actually you’re a bit tired, a bit stressed, a bit lonely? How often do you think other people say they’re ok when actually they might be feeling some of those other feelings?
A popular tip from mental health professionals is to ask twice and was the topic of the recent ‘Mind Your Head Campaign’ from the farm safety group, Yellow Wellies. Stopping to ask ‘how are you, really?’ is an easy, but effective tool to encourage someone to answer more honestly.
We’re all very good at attending to our physical health, but although we’re getting better at it, we still find it hard to be quite so open about our mental wellbeing.
Farming notoriously presents people with many situations to challenge their mental health; relentless working hours, lone-working, financial burdens, multiple stressors such as audits, TB and isolation. Therefore it is hardly surprising that research conducted by Yellow Wellies found that four out of five young farmers (under 40) believe mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today. These young farmers thoughts were proved to be correct when 36% of the 15,000 respondents to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Intuition’s ‘Big Farming Survey’ at the beginning of 2021 described themselves as ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’ depressed.
If you feel your mental wellbeing is suffering, the most powerful thing you can do, is talk. Share your feelings with someone you trust be that your GP, someone on the end of a helpline, a friend or family member. You don’t have to have a clinical mental illness to reap the benefits that sharing your feelings openly can bring – we all need to get better at starting and having these conversations.
The Samaritans – 116 123
The Farming Community Network – 03000 111 999
Esme Moffett – Synergy Farm Health, Veterinary Surgeon BVMS DBR MRCVS