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Loneliness is a key factor in feeling depressed, farmers confirm

Loneliness is a key risk factor for mental health issues in farmers with 94 per cent of respondents to a Farmers Guardian online poll agreeing that it posed a risk to mental wellbeing.

Loneliness is a key factor in feeling depressed, farmers confirm

“The Covid 19 pandemic and the cancellation of events has impacted farmers’ ability to meet one another and socialise in ways they normally would,” says Jude McCann, chief executive officer of the Farming Community Network (FCN).

 

But of course spending a lot of time alone is not a new situation for many farmers, he continues:

 

“In many situations farming is a form of lone working and prolonged periods of isolation and long hours can create heightened feelings of loneliness.

 

“It is important that farmers find ways of maintaining social connections with others.”


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“It is important that farmers find ways of maintaining social connections with others.”

Finding ways to talk

 

Melinda Raker is CEO of You Are Not Alone (YANA) which provides farmers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcester with counselling.

 

“Isolation is a big part of why farmers can suffer from mental health issues but there is a difference between isolation and loneliness. It is possible to be isolated but not lonely. It is about connection.”

 

Finding a way to be connected to others either in person or via virtual means is essential. This could be through keeping in touch with neighbouring farmers or a farming group or via a gym or sports club, she adds. “Anything that gives you a sense of belonging to something else.”

 

YANA counsellor Sally Storr believes technology had brought positives and negatives.

 

“Progress in technology means that the farming community see people even less than they used to so it is particularly important to make up for that with more social situations.”

 

Social media can play a part in enabling connection as long as involvement is in a structured way that is helpful. “It can go the other way and be judgemental and negative. It is important to get the balance right and not rely solely on it.”

 

Click here to visit the mental health hub

Advice for combating loneliness:

  • Find ways of maintaining social connections for example through social engagements, joining local groups or attending markets and other events in the farming calendar (when possible)
  • Social media can help enable connection but ideally should be used in conjunction with ‘real life’ opportunities
  • Take steps to separate your personal and work life
  • Take time away from the farm where possible
  • Make use of farmer-specific helplines such as the one offered by FCN (03000 111 999) or The YANA project helpline on 0300 323 0400 and speak to an experienced volunteer who understand farming and the issues farm workers and farming families regularly face

Sources of help

Samaritans

  • Telephone: 116113
  • Confidential helpline open 24 hours/ day, 365 days/year
  • Visit samaritans.org

 

Farming Community Network

  • Telephone: 03000 111 999
  • Confidential helpline open 7am to 11pm every day of the year
  • Visit farminghelp.co.uk

 

Directory of National Rural Support Groups

 

British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy

  • Information on talking therapy, how it can help and how to find a therapist
  • Visit bacp.co.uk

 

RSABI

For more mental health support

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