A mental health New Year's resolution
A stigma still exists around mental health issues.
A long-time farming friend told me recently that he was suffering from anxiety issues, particularly when trying to make routine farming decisions. This caught me by surprise and I didn’t know quite what to say. In retrospect, I should have been a lot more supportive.
When someone tells you they have back problems, arthritis in their knee or migraine headaches, sympathy and understanding come easily. Why, then, is a mental health issue any different?
Very few of us have perfect physical health. We have imperfect eyesight, teeth that need to be fixed or some nagging problem from an old injury. Some are blessed with much better health than others, but physical health typically deteriorates with age.
In truth, very few of us have perfect mental health either. Most of the time, it isn’t serious. Maybe it’s periods of mild depression, trouble coping with stressful situations or trouble sleeping at night.
Sometimes it is serious and professional help is needed, just like when a physical health problem becomes too much to manage alone. Farming can be a stressful business. Weather, markets, finances, family.
Just as there are reasons why farmers are more likely to suffer hearing loss, there are reasons why mental health issues can emerge.
There’s no more reason to be ashamed of a mental health issue than a physical health issue and the same understanding and support should be afforded to both.
I’m making that a New Year’s resolution.