In this article, FRS sheds light on identifying the types of stress impacting farmers.
Stress is an important factor to be aware of in the agricultural industry. Farmers and contractors can control many elements of their daily tasks, including start times, jobs to complete and processes.
However, there are many elements that they cannot control, such as the weather, illness, and the behaviour of others. These are all significant factors that can impact a person’s mental health.
This year, Ireland has seen unfavourable weather conditions that have led to a delay in starting silage in some parts of the country.
Short spells of fine weather have led farmers and contractors to be under pressure to complete numerous jobs in a small space of time.
Research has shown that some stress can be positive and help performance in certain situations. This is only healthy if the stress is short-lived.
Lack of sleep, panic, and ongoing worry can all have a lasting impact. In some cases, prolonged stress can lead to heart disease and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Everybody has mental health, just like physical health. Both are equally important and can change throughout our lives. Stress can present itself in a multitude of ways.
There needs to be greater awareness around stress and identifying the warning signs. Symptoms can vary or overlap, but overall, stress indicates that something needs to be changed.
Physical symptoms of stress include headaches, tiredness and musculoskeletal aches.
It can also present itself through chronic fatigue, hypertension, rapid heart rate and panic attacks.
Emotional symptoms of stress are feeling overwhelmed, trapped, or frustrated.
Depression, anxiety, worry, fear, and feelings of powerlessness can also be signs.
Also, watch out for loneliness, grief and feeling like crying a lot, as these too can be linked to stress.
Cognitive symptoms notice can include obsessive thinking, negative thinking, or poor short-term memory. It also presents through difficulty concentrating, black and white thinking, and an inability to see all options.
Behavioural symptoms appear in many forms, including:
- Anger (at themselves or others);
- Withdrawal from family/friends;
- An inability to make decisions/procrastinating;
- Chronic complaining.
Some behaviours are also compulsive, such as:
- Changing eating patterns;
- Alcohol and caffeine consumption;
- Other addictions.
We urge farming families, friends and others who work in the agricultural industry to be aware of stress and how it can impact a person.
It is important to offer a person showing symptoms of stress the correct support. Some people may need to talk through their situation; however, others may need further support from professional services.
You can find information:
- Mental Health Ireland (mentalhealthireland.ie);
- HSA (ie/eng/Workplace_Health/)
Alternatively, contact the following organisations for help:
- Samaritans – 116 123- samaritans.org
- Your Mental Health – 1800 111 888 – hse.ie/mental-health
- Pieta House – 1800 247 247 – pieta.ie
You can find more information on FRS website.