Measuring the impact of farmer stress

Nuffield Farming Scholar and psychotherapist, Aarun Naik, and University of Liverpool researcher, Laura Phalp, have teamed up in search of hard data on farmer mental health. In today’s blog post they call on the farming community for help with this important research.

Aarun says:
“The issue of farmer mental health and wellbeing has long been of interest to me and it’s one which I was also able to explore in some depth through the award of a Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2016.

Whilst it was once seldom spoken about, I have been encouraged by the way the farming community is really beginning to speak out about this issue. I believe that if we are to successfully respond to the challenge of mental health in farming, then a thorough understanding of the scale, the extent and likely causes of the problem is crucial.

Although it’s an issue to which most of us are able to acknowledge and relate, other than some general headline statistics and the occasional academic study, it’s one in which we in the UK lack detailed, empirical data.

Many of us no doubt have our own stories of struggles. Similarly, many of us can point to tales of neighbours or others we know of in the farming community who have been impacted by this issue. Whilst such anecdotal information offers a really useful insight, without measurable data though, the true extent and scale of the problem remains unknown. If we are to further our understanding, spur people into action and marshal more resources towards farmer mental health and wellbeing then it is essential that we build a robust evidence base on the issue.

It’s been a pleasure to assist Laura, who must be applauded for taking on this important topic. Laura’s work offers a chance to gather vital data that will help shed more light on the issue. Yet we cannot do this without your help. We are calling on ALL adult farmers to take a moment to share your experiences in an anonymous questionnaire. And don’t stop there – encourage your fellow farmers to take part as well.

Laura explains:

“My name is Laura Phalp and I am a Trainee Clinical Psychologist. I am also a tenant farmer’s daughter from North Yorkshire. I am therefore very aware of some of the difficulties faced by the farming community and, consequently, it felt very important to me to complete my research project with farmers. The project will form a big part of my doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool.

“The project is investigating the relationship between adverse events on the farm and thoughts of suicide, and is interested in the views of adult farmers. When completing the study, you will be asked some questions about your experiences of adverse events on the farm. Examples of adverse events include weather related problems, financial problems, animal and/or crop disease, troubles with animals and problems with farm machinery. You will also be asked questions about your mental health, recent life experiences and thoughts of suicide. Along with being asked to complete a selection of short self-report measures focusing on optimism/pessimism, resilience and impulsivity. The total questionnaire should take about 15-20 minutes to complete and you have the option of completing either an online or paper questionnaire. You are able to return both versions anonymously.”

To take part in the study, and for more information, please CLICK HERE

Aarun’s Nuffield Farming Report, ‘Supporting Farmer Wellbeing: Addressing mental health in agriculture and horticulture’ can be downloaded HERE

stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9Measuring the impact of farmer stress

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