LACK OF time, pride and concerns over anonymity, are just some of the reasons given by Scottish farmers for not seeking help for mental ill health.

The University of Aberdeen have shared some of the findings of their recent study looking at mental health perceptions with Scottish farmers.

Researchers spoke to 76 individuals via an online survey which has flagged up the main warning signs around poor mental health and what barriers are holding back farmers from accessing support.

Participants identified some of the following as warning signs of stress and mental health issues to spot in yourself and others:

Neglecting usual activities, including self-care, ignoring responsibilities and general apathy. Social withdrawal, becoming less communicative or unusually quiet. Cognitive changes such as an increase in irrational and negative thoughts, along with lapses in concentration. Temperament changes including sudden uncharacteristic mood swings and or increased irritability. An increase in alcohol or drug use. A change in energy levels, where an individual becomes more lethargic or restless.

Participants also shared some of the barriers that might be faced when trying to get help and support. A common response was that there was no time to access support, given the 24/7 nature of the occupation. Others said that they didn’t know how to start a conversation and were nervous about negative reactions. The issue of self-reliance arose with farmers feeling that they were expected to deal with their issues independently and wouldn’t ask for help unless in crisis. Concerns were also raised about anonymity and the pressures of being part of a rural village and the feeling that everyone would know your business. There was also a proportion of participants who were still unsure how, or where, to get support.

Using this information from respondents, the University of Aberdeen in collaboration with the Farm Safety Foundation has put together leaflets and posters with their findings, which includes responses to the concerns flagged by farmers on how and where to access support.

Both are available for download for free from their website: