BY HARRIET BOWYER, UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW
Low mood and anxiety are experienced by many people throughout their lifetime. Research indicates that farmers may be particularly vulnerable to these difficulties and that a significant number of farmers sadly commit suicide each year. For a variety of reasons farmers may not want to, or can’t access, formal health care services for support: the demands of work may make it difficult to make the time to attend appointments or they may find it difficult accessing local mental health resources. A number of farming charities (The Farming Community Network, RABI, The YANA project) are currently offering support via helplines for farmers experiencing a variety of difficulties and a number of farmers on social media sites have been encouraging individuals within the community to start to talk about their mental health difficulties.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow are keen to find out how best to support the mental health of members of the farming community. As such, they are investigating the usefulness of providing farmers with an online course that teaches key life skills based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Research suggests that online life skills training can help with low mood and anxiety, and that it works best if it is relevant to the people that are using it. That’s why their project has been designed specifically for the farming community. The research team are keen for anyone within the farming community to try the resource and provide some feedback about it so that they can improve the course and make it more suitable for individuals within the farming community who are experiencing symptoms of low mood and/or anxiety.
The project is being offered to members of the UK farming community (farmers, farm workers and their families) who are over the age of 18 years. The course aims to help individuals learn a variety of practical life skills in order to help prevent or improve symptoms of low mood and anxiety. There are several short video clips (lasting 5-10 minutes) available which individuals can pick and choose from depending on whether they are relevant to their life or not. Optional weekly automated emails also accompany the course. Farmers lead a particularly busy life so the course is designed so that individuals can spend as much or as little time on the site as they want.
Example topics include:
– Learning how to change negative or stressful thinking
– How to break problems down into manageable chunks
– How to plan activities that make you feel happier when you’re busy
– How to get a better night’s sleep
In order to try out the resource individuals need to fill in a brief 10-minute survey. They will then be sent an email with a link to the online resource. This study has been reviewed and approved by the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences Ethics Committee at the University of Glasgow (ref: 200160003).
Country Squire Magazine welcomes the work of Harriet and her colleagues. Our magazine’s campaign to tackle Farmer depression and highlight mental health issues in the UK countryside has met with an overwhelmingly positive response from readers. If you feel these issues affect you or your colleagues or someone you know we urge you to visit the farmer stress website here.