Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and since then, mental health charity Samaritans found that farmers were one of the groups of people who needed its services the most.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the National Ploughing Championships, Ger Campion of Samaritans said: “Farmers and isolated people living out in the middle of the country” would be the most common type of contact to its helplines.
Campion said farmers have been contacting the charity due to “loneliness” and “isolation”. “They are very isolated, probably even more isolated during COVID-19 and we would have a lot of callers.
“Loneliness is probably one of the highest things that people would discuss with us, isolation, and the farming community would obviously be big in that area,” she said.
Samaritans is a charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope or at risk of suicide, often through its telephone helpline.
Lack of social outlet
The Samaritans representative also described how many older farmers are struggling with lack of access to social outlets.
She said that trying to get to and home from the local pub so they can socialise has “been getting harder” for farmers.
Campion said farmers also share financial concerns, be it an inability to make money during the pandemic or pressures now with farm costs.
Because of this, she said farmers are one of the groups Samaritans have been “definitely trying to target more”.
She described how the charity has recently partnered with milk processors to add a Samaritans logo and helpline to milk lorries to raise awareness of their services within the farming community.