Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 07 to 13 October 2018 with World Mental Health Day on Wednesday, 10 October 2018. Teagasc Health and Safety Specialist, Dr. John McNamara stated that Teagasc is assisting farmers to maintain Positive Mental Health against the background of a very challenging year in farming due to adverse weather conditions, fodder shortage and associated increased costs.
Teagasc has published a leaflet entitled: ‘Positive Mental Health in Farming’ which highlights the key issues associated with this topic.
International studies (Australia, Ireland, USA, and Norway) indicate that the major stress factors among farmers include: farm finances, farm paperwork and poor farm work conditions such as safety standards, excessive workload and personal health.
Dr. John McNamara the Teagasc Health and Safety Specialist noted the timeliness of Mental Health Awareness Week coinciding with Teagasc’s Fodder and Finance Budgeting Week, during which Teagasc advisors will be available to visit farms and give practical advice about feeding, fodder production and financial budgeting to both Teagasc clients and non-clients.
Positive working and personal relationships help in the prevention of stress across all sectors. Dr. McNamara emphasised the importance of proactively working on health and having social supports to maintain positive mental health in the longer term. Forming the routine of undertaking a regular health check is crucial for both health and mental health. Performing ‘aerobic exercise’ and eating a balanced diet, including fruit and vegetables, gives strong health and mental health benefits.
Referring to social supports, Dr. McNamara said that an Irish study shows that maintaining strong contact with family, friends and fellow farmers together with advisors and others associated with farm business contributes positively to strong mental health. Discussing a difficulty with a trusted confidant greatly assists in resolving issues which consequently reduces stress levels.
Teagasc’s ‘Positive Mental Health in Farming’ leaflet is available on the Teagasc website at www.teagasc.ie