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HomeBeef‘Do what you need to do for yourself’
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Do what you need to do for yourself’

“All I can say to you is to look after what is inside your own gate because your farm is your farm and find out how to make it work for you,” that is what Oliver Dixon, farmer, psychotherapist, and councillor, told attendees of his recent open day as part of Teagasc’s Growing Organics programme.

Dixon, who farms in Claremorris, in Co Mayo and has been working as a psychotherapist and councillor for twenty years, told farmers to “do what you need to do for yourself”.

“If there is financial bother, do not leave it. Get a financial advisor and go and get it sorted. Do not have it hanging in the back of your head.”

“If you are not feeling right and you cannot talk to the people in the house, go talk to people such as councillors and therapists.”

Cow analogy 

“Take for example, if you see a cow belonging to you that is sick out in the field. Are you going to go, I will see how she is next month?”

“You are not because you would be out straight away to get her out of the field and sorted. Because if you do not, it will really play on your mind.”

“So, have the same outlook on your own emotional well-being and how you feel. We have our mental well-being, but we also have our emotional well-being, which is how we feel or how we express that or do not.”

“When you do not express it, all you are doing is accumulating, by adding, adding and adding so it is going to be more pressure.”

“What I would say to you is, try to unload the pressure,” he added.

“What if any other industry came out with a report that 23.4% of their staff are considered at-risk for suicide?”

Top stressors for farmers

Government policies designed to reduce climate change, outsiders not understanding farming and concerns around the future of farms are among the top three stressors for Irish farmers, according to a new UCD-led study, involving 256 farmers.

At the event, Professor Louise McHugh from the School of Psychology discussed the report, which she has co-ordinated with Dr Tomás Russell of the School of Agriculture, and Food Science and Alison Stapleton of the UCD School of Psychology.

23.4% of farmers

According to the report, 23.4% of Irish farmers are considered at risk for suicide.

“That meant that in the two weeks before they took out the survey, they said that they had urges of the thoughts of suicide, which is very startling.”

“We also saw that 55% were scoring for depression at moderate to severe, that 44% were seeing moderate to severe levels of anxiety and 37% had high or severe levels of stress.”

“So, what we are seeing with these levels, there is a crisis in terms of well-being within the farming community,” she concluded.

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