We're often told about the healing power of nature, and in agribusiness we're fortunate enough to experience the wonders of the outside world on a daily basis. But life in the farming and wider industries isn't all sunshine and wheat fields, and with a study by the Farm Safety Foundation finding that88% of farmers under the age of 40 rank poormental health as the biggest problem they face today*, it's crucial that we get talking.
During the year several campaigns seek to raise awareness of mental health in agribusiness, from the Yellow Wellies ' Mind Your Head ' campaign, to the Farming Community Network's initiative during mental health week to encourage farmers to open up about their own experiences. This year, Ag Mental Health Week runs from 10-16 October, and we're backing this brilliant initiative by highlighting five ways to support mental health. We hope they work for you.
In any industry, taking time to rest is important. But in agribusiness where many jobs rely on physical exertion, rest becomes crucial. These days the opportunity to rest meaningfully – that is resting with purpose – is difficult. Any downtime we have is compromised by a constant barrage of demands, all designed to steal our attention. And we often feel guilty for resting, or feel that we should be 'doing something'. But resting is doing something – it's allowing your body and mind to recharge and reset, giving you the capacity to continue. So find somewhere quiet where you're unlikely to be disturbed, switch off your phone, breathe deeply and relax.
The agricultural sector, and farming in particular, can be a lonely existence. The past eighteen months has seen this exacerbated; the cancellation of regular shows and events, as well as the closing of the livestock markets, meant that for many people their only point of contact with friends and acquaintances disappeared overnight. We felt isolated and lost without the familiarity of our routines, and this shook our confidence. But help is at hand. Whilst social media can be a drain and a distraction, it's also a great way of making connections and increasing social interactions. Check Facebook for local groups, or contact the Farming Community Network for more support.
As the saying goes, 'it's good to talk'. Talking not only helps you to unburden your mind of all the thoughts that can be racing through it, it also helps you recognise that you're not alone. When we muster the courage to talk about our feelings we're often surprised to learn that other people are going through very similar experiences, and that shared identity helps. A trusted friend, colleague or family member may be the perfect person to start with, but if there doesn't seem to be anyone to share your thoughts with you're still not alone. Several specific charities exist to support people from agricultural backgrounds with their mental health. The DPJ Foundation has a 24 hour helpline, The Farming Community Network (FCN) offers free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who needs help, and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) offer confidential support to anyone currently working within agriculture and also to those who are no longer able to work due to ill-health, accident or age.
It probably sounds completely contradictory, given that we've just advised resting, but activity really can help our mental health. Whilst it's true that agricultural jobs are often physically demanding, other types of exercise or activity can be extremely beneficial. Perhaps going for a run helps you unwind, or maybe it's a group activity such as five-a-side football or rugby? Or it could be time for something completely different – yoga for example not only helps strengthen and tone, it helps us breathe properly, and local classes are often available. If you're physically exhausted, why not try something a little more sedate? Craft projects or practising music help us to regulate our breathing and can provide a welcome distraction from the constant stream of thoughts running through our brains. Maybe it's time to dig out those crochet hooks
It sounds obvious but nothing changes if nothing changes. If you've identified that you're unhappy then there are always positive steps that can be taken towards improving your life. Talk to people, connect with likeminded individuals, and access the wide range of support that's available. And if it's work that's making you unhappy, then seek to change it. Reputable businesses such as Cultura Recruitment will listen to your wants and needs, and work with you to identify suitable opportunities. We'll only ever suggest options that we feel would benefit you and we always take our commitment to integrity and ethical connections seriously. We don't claim to be experts in mental health, but we are experts in agribusiness recruitment.
Lastly and most importantly, remember that you and your mental health matter, and you're not alone.
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* Source https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-56071138#:~:text=A%20study%20by%20the%20Farm,biggest%20problem%20they%20face%20today.&text=%22Farmers%20are%20dealing%20with%20issues,no%20way%20of%20staying%20connected.
"Cultura (n) [kʊɫ̪'t̪uː.ra] from Latin 'cultus' (to cultivate). To nurture, promote, encourage, support, help, develop, improve, enrich, farm and care."