“There’s nowt wrong with me Doctor”
The pressures of rural life can impact your mental health. With levels of depression in the farming industry increasing and suicide rates in agricultural workers among the highest in any occupational group, it’s important that you look out for signs of mental ill health in yourself and others.
Who is at risk?
Mental health problems can affect anyone, with one in four people experiencing mental ill health each year in the UK. The remote nature of rural communities can leave people feeling cut off and lonely, increasing vulnerability to low mood, rumination and paranoid thinking.
Although farm life enables parents, children and extended family members to work side by side for a common goal, too much togetherness and not enough privacy can lead to tension and relationship difficulties.
‘Control of the farm’ issues can sometimes lead to serious problems including, feeling like you lack control, family conflicts, communication breakdowns, verbal and physical abuse and marital difficulties – all of which contribute to stress levels.
Increased stress levels in dangerous working environments such as farms can pose a real threat to your personal safety and increase the likelihood of farming accidents.
Am I stressed?
Stress is a key contributor to mental health problems.
The symptoms of stress differ from person to person but a good clue that you are stressed is if you have difficulty being flexible or adapting to changing circumstances. Planning, scheduling and multi-tasking can all become overwhelming and lead to feelings of being frozen or stuck; unable to cope with anything else – as if your brain has ‘seized up’. Other indicators may include:
- increased irritability over small things
- impatience or frustration
- angry blowups / difficulty controlling emotions
- withdrawing from others
- losing interest in things
- feeling negative about others and yourself
- difficulties concentrating or making decisions
- ruminating over problems and conversations with others.
What about my physical health
There may also be physical signs that you or someone you are close to are feeling stressed:
- headaches or body pain (e.g. backache)
- trouble relaxing and feeling restless
- anxiety (rapid heart rate, increased breathing rate, feeling sick, chest pains, and difficulty swallowing)
- lack of energy
- poor sleep (e.g. difficulties getting to sleep, staying asleep, early waking or difficulty going back to sleep)
- reduced sex drive
- digestive problems (e.g. indigestion, poor appetite or abdominal pain including bloating and changes in bowel habits).
What can I do?
Making small improvements to your overall wellbeing can help. This could include:
- connecting with others
- taking more exercise
- getting enough sleep
- eating regularly and well
- paying attention to things that give you pleasure
- doing things to help other people
- accepting help from others.
What if I need more help?
Visit your GP
Your family doctor will be able to talk to you about the problems you are experiencing and can offer advice about things that might be helpful. This could include different therapies or medications.
Those closest to you are often the most likely to spot the early warning signs that you are feeling stressed. Family members are often able to help you to manage your stress before problems build up to unmanageable levels or start to impact the wider family. Sharing your problems with someone close to you can make the world of difference.
Mental health services
Mental health services have changed dramatically over the years with the majority of care and treatment now taking place in the community; often on-line or via the telephone. Most mental health services are accessed via referral from your GP.
You can also self-refer to talking therapies services provided by TEWV.
Local book stores and libraries stock a range of self-help material that you may find useful. TEWV also host the ‘Recovery College Online’ where you can access a range of free online courses to help you manage your mental health.
Who else is here to help?
There are a number of organisations who can offer practical support during difficult times…
The Farming Community Network
Supports farmers and families with a variety of issues, including financial difficulties, animal disease, mental health and family disputes.
Tel. 03000 111 999
Federation of Young Farmers
Young farmers give young people the opportunity to meet lifelong friends, learn new skills and make a real difference to the local community.
The Yorkshire Agricultural Society
Farming network providing advice, support and opportunities for those within the agricultural industry.
Tel.01423 54 10 00
The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution
Offering financial support to farming people in hardship.
Tel. 0808 281 9490
Gamekeepers Welfare Trust
Supports gamekeepers and their dependants, past and present.
Tel. 01677 470180 / 0300 1233088.
The Addington Fund
Helping to provide housing for those leaving the industry.
Tel. 01926 620135
The charity supporting people in horticulture.
Tel. 0800 093 8543
The rural lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans plus (LGBTQ+) network.
The following helplines have specially trained volunteers who will speak to you and offer mental health support:
(24 hours a day, 365 days a year)
Tel. 116 123
(Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm)
Tel. 0845 766 0163
Tel. 0300 304 7000
Tel. 0845 456 0455 / 0207 840 3188
Tel. 0845 122 8622
What to do in a mental health crisis…
If you no longer feel able to cope or in control of your situation you may be in mental health crisis. Advice on what to do is available here.
If you, or someone you know, are in immediate danger of serious harm go to your nearest accident and emergency department or call 999 for an ambulance immediately.
|Date last updated:||19/06/2019|
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