by Hywel Llyr Jenkins, Member of meddwl.org management team
According to 84% of farmers under the age of 40, mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry today. 85% of young farmers believe that there is a specific link between mental health and the general safety of farmers.
Depression and suicide are the leading causes of death within UK farming communities, according to the Time to Change Wales campaign. Unsurprisingly, there has been an increasing demand recently for rural communities to discuss mental health more openly. The agriculture industry is facing many stressful things, and is placing increasing pressures on workers, such as working long hours, financial pressures, animal diseases, poor crops, isolation and loneliness, as well as political factors such as Brexit and policies that put them at greater risk of experiencing mental health difficulties. Therefore, addressing your mental health is paramount in the industry.
We are pleased to hear that the FUW has set a clear goal of trying to raise awareness of mental health in rural communities. There is a stigma surrounding talking about our mental health, and until we are ready to challenge this stigma, there is a danger that people will not get the help they truly deserve.
Its okay to talk about our feelings, there's nothing to fear. Speaking out is a sign of weakness simply isn’t true. Indeed, it is often a sign of strength that is respected by others in society and is of help to others. You’ll find that many feel the same as you. At the end of the day we often face the same challenges.
The good news is that there is no need to suffer alone, whether it is a farming person or anyone living in rural society. Help is available from your GP, Tir Dewi, DPJ Foundation and others. More information on where to get help can be found on our website (meddwl.org/scymorth).
Meddwl.org is also very proud of the work we have done this year with Young Farmers' Clubs to develop a resource called 'It's OK not to be OK'. It’s a resource that offers tips on how to talk to others about your mental health, or how to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis.
Mental illness is a hidden illness, you may not be feeling well, but unsure of what’s wrong. Here are some things to look out for:
• Change in appetite, eating habits or weight
• Change in energy level and sleep patterns
• Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
• Difficulty with concentration and decision making
• Obvious restlessness or irritability
• Loss of interest or enjoyment in activities
If you feel you need help, talk to someone you trust. Sharing a problem is often the first step towards a cure. If your mental or emotional state deteriorates quickly, or if you’re worried about someone you know - remember help is available. We look forward to continuing the discussion.