Farmers have been urged to mind their mental health by Fine Gael senator and dairy farmer Tim Lombard as the sector’s busiest time coincides with a Level 5 lockdown.

Lombard said farming could be an isolating job at the best of times.

“Long days spent alone on the land can usually be counterbalanced by socialising with friends, meeting up with extended family and other leisure outlets like team sports.

“This is one of the busiest times of year for agriculture and it coincides with a very lonely time for many due to COVID-19 restrictions,” the senator said.

Mental health

He appealed to farmers to keep an eye on their mental health: “There is nothing wrong in seeking help; it is in fact a sign of strength and courage to be able to reach out during a time of need.”

Research has shown that there is a 50% chance of a farmer struggling with mental health problems throughout their career.

Lombard, who is Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on agriculture, said the local GP was a good port of call if feeling down.

Impact

However, he said picking up the phone to a friend, family member or another farmer could have a positive impact.

“This latest lockdown has been mentally bruising and is taking its toll on all of us. Sleepless nights of calving and lambing, long days alone on the land in appalling weather conditions and financial worries about Brexit are only adding to the burden.

“It’s OK not to be OK. Don’t suffer in silence and seek help if at all necessary,” Lombard concluded.