It has been brilliant to see the subject of mental health increasingly embraced within the farming and broader rural community in recent months. On twitter there is a hashtag #FarmerMentalHealth which can be used by anybody wishing to discuss the subject or perhaps link to an interesting story or something to inspire or help others. The farming press has been brilliant and several stories have been written by farmers and journalists to raise awareness of depression, anxiety, suicide awareness and other mental health concerns. On social media several people, not least @Countrymaned and @willpenrievans, have kept the subject rolling. As a result, the stigma is slowly being broken down but there remains a long way to go. It has been a particularly tough winter for farmers, not least with the trials brought about by the weather, and especially for vulnerable people in communities who perhaps can’t get out of the house or feel isolated or lonely for other reasons. The work of charities such as Rethink, Mind, Sane, YANA, the FCN, the RABI, Samaritans, Papyrus and others has never been more important. I’m certainly not ashamed to say that I myself have struggled with my mental health recently and so believe more than ever in the importance of breaking down boundaries relating to the subject and speaking with each other about it.
The most important thing from my point of view is that if you are struggling with your mental health you approach somebody for help or to talk through your concerns. However, you might want to or think it suitable to speak to a professional mental health professional. One means of accessing help which is increasingly popular is online therapy, utilising sites such as BetterHelp. In short online therapy is mental health counseling delivered over the internet. It’s delivered through online forums, texting, video chat or audio messaging but otherwise is very similar to conventional face to face counseling. The most important thing is that it provides targeted support and a mental health professional who can guide you through your thoughts and concerns and support you. It’s probably not going to be for everybody but for some people who are struggling with their mental health it might be the perfect thing to get on board with.
Why might some people prefer online therapy?
- people might worry about bumping into somebody they know if they go to a face to face counseling session.
- they might be more comfortable at home
- they might feel they have more time to gather their thoughts
- they might want shorter more flexible sessions
- it might be more convenient, especially for people with particular access needs or those who cannot drive to a therapist’s office.
- Some feel it provides even greater confidentiality or anonymity which they might want
- it is less expensive than face to face therapy.
For more information take a look here.
Of course one big issue for many people in isolated rural communities could be poor or lack of broadband signal and so this might be a concern for someone interested in online therapy. It’s yet another reason why it’s important we improve broadband in rural areas.
Again, online therapy won’t be right for everyone but it’s worth investigating to figure out if it could help you.
Once again, please do keep involved in the campaign by using #FarmerMentalHealth when raising the subject on social media.