All this week people have been talking about mental health as part of ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’, a project that has been run by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001. This year’s theme is ‘stress: are we coping?’, looking at stress and how it is impacting on our lives. The #FarmerMentalHealth campaign that has been gradually ticking along on social media and occasionally print media has suggested that the farming community faces huge amounts of stress on all sorts of levels and it’s great that boundaries are being broken down and farmers are being encouraged to speak to others about their concerns. A problem shared isn’t always a problem halved but it certainly helps!
Stress and the impact it has on mental health is, I would argue, one of the great public health challenges of our times. In a recent poll commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation (of 1,012 people), more than a third of people (35%) surveyed had experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings due to stress. Further, almost three quarters of Scots who took part in the survey said they felt unable to cope in the past year. One sixth had self-harmed as a result of stress. According to Mind, one in six employees in the UK are living with a mental health condition such as anxiety, depression or stress but feel difficult about discussing it.
For those living with a mental health condition or living a stressful life which they might foresee as potentially leading to a crisis of mental suffering there are options, most of which involve talking to others. We need to break the stigma. Speaking to a therapist of a psychologist is one option, but we should all be prepared to support others who are suffering. If you are suffering and haven’t taken the plunge to speak to a therapist, psychologist or your GP I seriously recommend taking that step. They can help you solve problems and work on making your life better, step by step. Different professionals have different skill sets, so you might want to consider what would be best for you first. Take a look here for more details.
Mental Health Awareness week might be drawing to a close, but mental health awareness itself should not. Please continue to break the stigma, and if you are part of the farming community and on social media please continue to use the #FarmerMentalHealth to continue the conversation. Thank you.