Over 265,000 people are employed in the agricultural sector in Ireland, with more than half this figure representing farm holders themselves. A vitally important yet demanding job, farming can present a number of challenges and stressors. Here, we're sharing our new, free, downloadable resource with helpful tips and supports to help you live a mentally healthy life.
What is mental health?
Mental health means a state of wellbeing that helps us to cope with the normal stress of life, to work and contribute to our communities, and to develop as people.
What is mental health?
Good mental health supports how we:
- think, feel and behave
- interact with other people
- look after ourselves and others, and
- take part in and enjoy our lives.
How can you mind your mental health in everyday life?
We know that having regular contact with family, friends and neighbours helps to keep us well. With a profession like farming, which can involve long days working alone, this is especially important.
Whether it’s calling to your neighbour for a cup of tea, phoning a relative for chat in the evening, or going for a walk with a friend, making time for social activities is key to supporting your mental health.
If you’d like some ideas for new social activities, why not try your local branches of:
Having a balanced routine can be difficult, especially with the long work hours and responsibilities of farming. When your workplace is also your home, this can be even harder.
Getting off the farm and giving your mind regular, proper breaks is important to managing stress and having a life outside of work. Planning a holiday or day trip, spending time in places you enjoy, or arranging to meet friends in the local town can help with this. It can also be a good idea to plan ahead and arrange time off for after particularly busy periods.
Look after yourself
Farming is a physically demanding job, but it’s still important to make space for other forms of exercise. Getting regular aerobic work-outs through team sports, walking or jogging, swimming, martial arts or the gym not only boosts our general health, but helps to relieve our stresses too.
We all also need to eat regular healthy meals, make sure we get enough sleep and rest, and take time just for ourselves so that we can mind our mental health. This is especially true during busy times: our productivity suffers if we don’t make sure to meet our basic needs.
As we get older, physical tasks become more demanding for all of us, so getting regular check-ups with your GP is crucial. It can also be helpful to get advice on ways to make your working days safer and easier; your local Teagasc advisor, for example, might be able to give you some guidance for this.
For more ways on looking after your physical health, the websites below have lots of information and ideas:
- The Irish Heart Foundation shares over 400 Slí na Sláinte walking routes around the country
- Get Ireland Walking gives information on walking groups and community programmes
- Park Run organises weekly events, where you can walk, jog or run with your local community
- Healthy Ireland is a national programme to improve health and wellbeing, and its website gives helpful information and ideas for an active lifestyle and healthy eating.
- The Health and Safety Authority shares practical information and advice on farm safety for older farmers
- Age & Opportunity also promotes ways of staying active in later life through their website or their FitLine, available by calling 1800 303 545.
Enjoy other parts of life
For many people, farming is a vocation, and farmers tend to work longer hours and retire later in life than those in other professions.
We all need meaning and satisfaction from other parts of our lives, outside of work, to mind our mental health. Giving time and attention to other valued roles in your life - such as parent or sibling, son or daughter, friend or partner - has a positive impact on our mental health.
Thinking about starting new activities you might enjoy – for example, taking up a new hobby or joining a community group. For more ideas, the organisations below could be a good start:
- Volunteer Ireland has information on short and long-term volunteering opportunities around the country
- The GAA offers numerous ways of getting involved in your local club
- Macra na Feirme offers a range of activities, supports and services for young farmers, with local branches across the country
- The Irish Countrywomen’s Association brings women together to cook, travel, craft and socialise, with over 500 guilds across Ireland
- Age & Opportunity’s Engage programme offers different personal development courses and opportunities for older adults
- Qualifax – the National Learner’s Database lets you search for day and evening courses in your area.
Getting help for mental health issues
At different times in life, we may need to get some help and support for our mental health. This might arise at particularly stressful times, due to financial worries for example, or because of worrying changes in how we are thinking, feeling, or acting.
Common signs of mental health difficulties
Some common signs of mental health difficulties can include:
- Sleeping a lot more than usual, or having insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Finding it difficult to concentrate on tasks
- Finding it hard to make decisions, or to get going with jobs you normally do without problem
- Avoiding friends and family, or isolating yourself
- Having upsetting or anxious thoughts
- Feeling overwhelmed or negative about the future
- Losing interest in things you enjoy
- Feeling irritable, restless or angry.
If you have been experiencing any of these feelings or signs for more than a couple of weeks, or if there are other changes you are worried about, talking to someone is important.
Most often, visiting your GP will be the best first step you can take.
Asking for help, is a sign of strength.
The sooner we get help and support, the better it is for our mental health.
Where can you get support and information?
Below you will find some Mental Health helplines that you can contact for information and support.
St Patrick’s Mental Health Services - Support and Information Line
To speak to an experienced mental health nurse, you can call our helpline. Local phonecall costs apply.
Call 01 249 3222 | Monday to Friday, 9am -5pm with a call-back facility out of these hours)
Visit the Getting Help section of our website for more information about mental health issues and our services.
Pieta House Helpline
If you or a family member are having suicidal thoughts, or if you've been
bereaved by suicide, you can contact this helpline for support.
1890 130 022
1800 247 247 | 24 hours a day
The Samaritans’ helpline aims to provide emotional support at any time when you may need it.
Call 116 123 | 24 hours a day
Other supports and helplines
Teagasc Advisory Service
This helpline offers information on older people’s issues and services.
Call 1890 369 369 |Monday-Friday, 9.30am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm
Childline is part of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) and is a helpline for children and young people under 18 years
Call 1800 666 666
Free Text 50101
Women’s Aid Helpline
Male Advice Line
Male victims of domestic violence and abuse, or family and friends who have concerns about a loved one, can receive advice and support through this helpline from the Men’s Development Network.
Call 1800 816 588
LGBT Ireland is a national organisation providing advice and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Call 1890 929 539 | Monday-Thursday, 6.30pm - 10pm; Friday, 4pm - 10-pm; Saturday and Sunday, 4pm - 6pm
HSE - Your Mental Health information line
Your Mental Health information line is a new 24 hour free phone information service provided by the HSE. It is not a counselling service, but an information line to help point you to the correct mental health service for your needs. You can free phone 1800 742 444 to request information anytime of the day.
When you call this phone line, a member of the team will tell the you about:
- the mental health supports and services available to you
- how to access different services provided by the HSE and their funded partners
- the opening hours of the services