A large crowd of over 100 people came to hear former rugby international Tony Buckley speak about his troubles with depression at a specially organised forum on mental health and fodder at Cappamore Show on Saturday 18 August.
Buckley spoke frankly about his own issues with mental health even at the height of his rugby career and urged farmers to ask for health if they felt they were struggling to cope.
“I think the looming fodder crisis could be a major stressor for people,” Buckley said.
“You can say you’ll be grand, I’ll be fine, I’m not soft, but once a major stressor hits you won’t get away from it.”
“When push came to shove I had to confide in a doctor and since the day I opened up to him everything has turned around.”
Buckley spoke about “bottling up” emotions and highlighted the fact that it can often be harder for men to admit that they have a mental health problem and ask for help.
“If you are struggling go to your GP, they won’t judge you they’ll just help you as a person and it’s confidential.”
He also emphasised the need for more support for mental health services and openly criticised the current lack of funding in facilities in Ireland.
“Every year in Ireland you’ve 520 suicides and that every year you’ve 520 families devastated by loss,” Buckley said.
The panel of speakers at the event also included Minister Michael Creed, Dairygold Co-op CEO Jim Woulfe, IFA president Joe Healy and Teagasc director Gerry Boyle.
Minister Creed said that while him and his Department “could not fix the weather” they were working with the European Commission on ensuring a number of flexibilities were secured for farmers around schemes.
It is really important that we remove the stigma around mental health
He also urged farmers to take stock if they were struggling and not be afraid to ask for help if they were struggling physically or mentally.
“A farmer’s first duty of care is to himself,” Minister Creed said.
“It’s been a difficult year, we had a long winter with a late spring and only about six weeks of normality and the last two months of virtual drought.”
“It is really important that we remove the stigma around mental health.”
Jim Woulfe and Gerry Boyle urged farmers to make use of facilities to undertake a fodder budget, with Woulfe assuring farmers worried about finances or credit that they would be catered for by the co-op.
President of the IFA Joe Healy, while welcoming the recent fertiliser and slurry spreading extension, called on Minister Creed to understand that it was not just a fodder but a financial crisis.
He stated that a fodder import scheme and low-cost loans needed to be rolled out as soon as possible.
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