A recent Irish study shows that 27% of farmers reported their wellbeing was ‘poor’ or ‘below average’ whilst a further study found that the most common sources of work related stress are weather, workload and money. Other issues causing stress include policy changes, regulation and farm succession.
A seminar being organised by Teagasc on Monday, 16th May, will address the issue of farmer wellbeing and mental health. The seminar will hear from a leading UK expert on mental health and wellbeing in agriculture, Dr David Christian Rose, Reading University. Summaries of recent and ongoing research in Ireland focused on wellbeing and mental health will also be presented prior to an open discussion chaired by Dr David Meredith, Teagasc Rural Economy Development Programme that will identify ways of improving the sustainability of farmers.
Commenting in advance of the seminar, Dr Rose said, “farmers face a unique set of acute and chronic stressors including farm bureaucracy, climatic conditions, animal and crop disease outbreaks, time pressures, work-place hazards, rural crime, finance, isolation, machinery breakdowns and media criticism. External shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit can generate new acute stressors for farmers and rural communities and intensify existing chronic stressors. Together, they can create distress and uncertainty for many and negatively impact individuals’ mental health and wider community and sector resilience.”
The seminar will be held in the Teagasc Conference Centre, Ashtown, Dublin 15 on Monday, 16 May from 2 to 4pm, as part of the BeSafe Project.
Dr Rose currently runs the “Change in Agriculture” research group at Reading University in the UK, which explores changes in policy, innovation, and technology and how they affect farmers, food production, and the environment. Specialisms include technology adoption, behaviour change and knowledge exchange, as well as the responsible innovation of emergent agri-technology. Dr Rose is also currently guest editor of a special issue of ‘Sociologia Ruralis’ on the topic of mental health and wellbeing of farmers.