Look out for signs of stress in your fellow farmers this spring

As the busy period of spring work approaches, RSABI, the charity which supports people in Scottish agriculture, is urging farmers and others to be vigilant for signs of stress.
calendar icon 20 February 2020
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With the main lambing and calving season just around the corner, the charity is highlighting the importance of an open discussion about mental wellbeing.

According to Mags Granger, RSABI Welfare Manager, there are a number of signs to look out for, in others and ourselves, which could be indicators that all is not right.

“It is important that we are vigilant all year round for any indications that something may be wrong – with ourselves or with a friend, relative or neighbour,” said Mrs Granger.

“However, it is more important than ever to look out for signs that people may be feeling pressure at this time of year when farmers, and others involved in agriculture, are at particular risk of stress due to long hours and tiredness.”

According to Mrs Granger, the signs to look out for include someone looking unusually dishevelled or perhaps drinking more alcohol than they would usually.

People who are affected may be grumpier than usual and reluctant to go out and about or answer the phone, as well as failing to prioritise important tasks.

The key, said Mrs Granger, is to look for a change from what is normal for the individual causing concern.

Mrs Granger is also urging people not to ignore any signs which become evident.

“Ask them if everything is okay. If there is something wrong, the sooner that help is sought the better,” she said.

“The stark reality is that every week one farmer in the UK commits suicide so it is much better to ask and see if you can help than to wish you had asked after it is too late,” she added.

Mrs Granger also emphasised the need to talk as openly as possible about mental wellbeing. “One in four of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives and the ability to discuss mental health openly is key to tackling the issues which lie behind it.”

The main thing, she said, is to be able to listen in the case of someone who may have mental health problems. “Don’t expect to be able to suggest answers for all the problems another person is going through. You are not expected to fix everything but you can listen and encourage them to seek help.”

RSABI runs a confidential helpline (co-funded by the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland), 0300 1114166, which people from Scottish agriculture are encouraged to call if they are in need of support. The helpline operates from 7 am to 11 pm 365 days a year.

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