Teagasc has advised that farmers should seek support to deal with stress as a result of the prolonged wet weather this spring and not to isolate themselves.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Teagasc health and safety specialist John McNamara said that the weather can be a major cause of stress on farmers.

“As a grass-based industry, we are highly dependent on the weather, meaning that it can be a major stressor on farmers.

"Currently, there are various issues on farms across the country - from slurry storage, lack of fodder and disease spreading from stock being indoors.”

He said that it is “important for farmers not to be isolated because stress escalates in isolation”.

He highlighted the importance of “having a support network in the community, be it other farmers, advisers or merchants, and to seek support”.

How to manage stress

At a medical level, anyone struggling should contact their GP, McNamara advised. He encouraged farmers to “focus on the controllables”.

Teagasc has advised that a key approach to managing stress is recognising the signs and responding to them.

"Research, however, indicates that provision of information on stress on its own does not affect behaviour. Each person must realise or ‘become aware’ of the issues leading to stress and then adopt positive strategies to minimise the stressor," it said.

Social involvement is crucial to minimise stress, it said. It advised farmers to:

  • Talk to trusted family members, neighbours and friends.
  • Discuss farming problems with your agricultural adviser.
  • Farm discussion groups have a valuable social dimension as well as a practical farm one, which is positive to solving problems and managing stress.
  • Farming and sporting organisations perform valuable social networks in rural Ireland.
  • Teagasc has further advice on minding your mental health here.