The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust is supporting Samaritans’ coronavirus response, its Real People, Real Stories campaign and work in rural communities.
Men in rural communities
Nearly half (45%) of men aged 20-59 in rural communities agree that they have experienced feelings of anxiety during lockdown. Almost two thirds (59%) say they feel worried about the future.
Impact of pandemic restrictions
Over a third (37%) of Men aged 20-59 living in rural communities agree that important relationships have been put under strain and nearly a third (30%) say they've had trouble sleeping as a result of the lockdown.
Talking to others
Around a third (32%) of men aged 20-59 in rural communities say that talking to others helped with concerns and worries they had during lockdown, showing the importance of seeking help and getting support when they need it.
Around two thirds (65%) of men aged 20-59 in rural communities agree that that technology has helped them feel more connected to friends and family during lockdown.
Samaritans’ campaign Real People, Real Stories, supported by the rail industry, aims to reach men who are struggling to cope to prevent them reaching crisis point. It features men sharing their stories of how they have overcome tough times to encourage others to seek help, by calling Samaritans for free on 116 123.
Morgan shares his story
Morgan, from Port Talbot, is a Chartered Surveyor and Agricultural Valuer and has shared his story as part of the Real People Real Stories campaign.
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"I suppose something triggered it when I was around the age of 17 or 18. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Things started becoming very difficult. I stopped going to school and I was at the pub four to five times a week. I was really struggling. I felt so alone in what I was feeling.
I found it easier to talk to a complete stranger. There was no judgement. It wasn’t until I spoke to someone that I realised I wasn’t alone in how I was feeling. Without opening up, and sharing my feelings, I wouldn’t have seen the wood from the trees or gained any sense of perspective."
“It was speaking to someone else about things that helped me see that I wasn’t unique in how I was feeling.”
Tips for looking after your mental health
Sue Peart, a Samaritans volunteer, shares tips and ideas for farmers and those working in agricultural and allied industries, for looking after their mental health.
Sue Peart's tips for looking after mental health
Mental health is as important as physical
Farm life tends to be quite physical; you need to be physically strong to be a farmer. Mental strength is harder to measure, but you need that too. In the same way as your physical strength can sometimes suffer, like when you’re ill or under the weather, your mental health can too, for example when you’re going through a difficult life event. We all know that we need to take care of our physical health, but we need to look after our mental health too.
Take time for you
Before an emotion spirals out of control, check in with it and pay it some attention. Allow yourself time to understand why you feel like you do. Sit in the feeling for a couple of minutes, breathe, and ask yourself: ‘What am I feeling?’ Sometimes, when you focus on a feeling and look it in the eye, it puts it into perspective. It no longer has quite such a firm hold over you. You might find you can continue your day alongside the feeling, and instead of it controlling you and stopping you being effective, it is simply there – because you allow it to be.
Check in on yourself
Take a few minutes every day to check in with your mental health. You could think of it as a daily test of your mental health temperature. Is this a good day? Did you wake up feeling optimistic and looking forward to the day ahead? Or did you wake up feeling anxious, with the world looking very grey? If it’s the latter, take real care of yourself as the day progresses. Work through the essential tasks at your own pace, and take time in between to rest, have a hot drink, and allow yourself time to think. Breathe deeply, and try to clear your mind. Think of times you were happy, and how you might get to that place again.
What to do if you're struggling to cope
If you’re struggling with difficult thoughts and emotions, or feeling isolated, don’t try to battle on alone, reach out to someone. Think about who there may be in your family or friendship group or community who you feel you can open up to. Ring them up for a chat, or suggest meeting for coffee or a drink. Many people find it hard to talk about their feelings, but you might be surprised how receptive people can be when it comes to supporting you, and how much it helps just to talk about what’s going on for you. If there is no-one you can think of to speak to, ring Samaritans. It’s free, and there’ll always be someone there to listen and support you.
Try to engage with how you're feeling
Our tendency is to push down, resist and even fight difficult feelings. Try to view them differently, as something that is normal to human beings and something that countless people experience. Instead of seeing them as the enemy and something to fear, try to engage with them. Remember it’s not a weakness to experience difficult feelings; it is simply human.
Make self-care part of your routine
Think about anything you particularly enjoy that offers you calm and solace. A walk with the dog, maybe. Reading the children their bedtime story. Listening to music. Anything that offers you a chance for your mind to calm, for you to rebalance, and spend some time with your own thoughts. Try to build that time into your everyday life.
For Further Support
The Farming Community Network
The Farming Community Network (FCN) is a national voluntary organisation and charity that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. FCN has over 400 volunteers located throughout England and Wales. In addition to local groups of volunteers, FCN runs a confidential national helpline (03000 111 999) for those in rural communities, which is open every day of the year from 7am-11pm.
FCN’s FarmWell website is a one-stop resource to help farmers and their businesses stay strong and resilient during periods of change. FarmWell Wales and FarmWell Cymru tailor resources for farmers in Wales.
Helpline: 03000 111999
Rural Support Northern Ireland
Rural Support provides a listening and signposting service for farmers and farming families across Northern Ireland through its helpline 0800 138 1678 Monday-Friday 9am-9pm).
It also provides various programmes, mentoring support, and advice about a wide range of issues including financial issues, mental health concerns and succession planning.
Helpline: 0800 138 1678
Email: [email protected]
The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I) – is farming’s oldest and largest charity. They provide practical care and guidance to farming people of all ages, including farmers, farmworkers and dependants.
R.A.B.I’s Helpline remains open and staff will continue to provide support to people from the farming sector in need, despite the challenges posed by coronavirus.
Helpline: 0808 281 9490
Email: [email protected]
Providing emotional, practical and financial support to individuals and their families across the agricultural sector in Scotland. The service is available to those previously and currently involved in farming and crofting. This is a comprehensive service to clients who are experiencing difficult times to enable them to move forward.
The Farm Safety Foundation
The Farm Safety Foundation, or Yellow Wellies as many know them, is a small UK-wide charity dedicated to raising awareness of farm safety and mental wellbeing in farmers. Their ‘Little Book of Minding Your Head’, which is downloadable from the website or available on request, is a must-read for anyone living and working in rural communities. The book explains mental health and how poor mental health is impacting the industry, what it looks like, what it sounds like, depression, suicidal thoughts and importantly how to start a conversation about mental health. The book also outlines key sources of support for those in the industry
Call: 01789 416 065
Email: [email protected]