Stress and Mental Health in Farming
What comes to mind when you think about stress in the workplace?
Maybe it’s executives in some big office in Melbourne or Sydney shouting furiously “buy” or “sell” down the phone, as millions of dollars move from one place to another. Perhaps it’s the person working in that government benefit office who is absolutely inundated with requests for help that he or she had just can’t meet because money isn’t available – and they get the blame.
In fact, there are lots of stereotypical images about stress but all too often its effects on farming communities are ignored or overlooked.
Well, partly it’s to do with the great tradition in Australian farming of keeping your business to yourself. If times are tough and things not going so well, we tend to grit our teeth and try and carry on, whereas people in other occupations might be inclined to talk to the wider world about their woes.
Another factor is that there is this idealistic image of farming, outside of the industry itself that is, that relates to farmers standing around chatting in the sunshine, beer in hand, talking in a leisurely fashion about Kubota parts, market prices and the weather.
Now that, of course, is for the most part complete nonsense. Farming is tough and the stresses and strains that it places on farmers and their families can be huge. As a result, as many reports show, things such as depression may be far more commonplace in our community than in other sectors.
Now we don’t claim to be qualified to give medical or psychological wellbeing advice but it might be sensible to try and be aware of when some of the pressures and frustrations of farming life are getting you down.
Don’t just keep telling yourself that it’s nothing and to ‘pull yourself together’. Instead, find someone to talk to about your problems and see whether or not someone, somewhere, can do something to help.
The bottom line is, don’t just bottle it up!
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