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Mental health of farmers in focus at Shropshire Conference

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Farming | Published:

A conference is being held to help Shropshire farmers and those in the industry open up about mental health and wellbeing.

The free event, sponsored by the NFU, will help build resilience and provide people with practical tools to manage their mental wellbeing on a daily basis.

Farmers and industry representatives will be at Halls Livestock Auction Centre, at Shrewsbury, on Friday, from 9am, for the conference and there will also be a fundraising charity livestock auction.

The event will be attended by NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes and there will be a series of guest speakers and a workshop run by Créde Sheehy-Kelly, a leading high-performance psychologist and mental wellbeing expert.

Senior auctioneer and Shrewsbury Auction Centre manager, Jonny Dymond, will hold the auction, with Dr Jude Capper and Red Shepherdess Hannah Jackson. Proceeds will go the Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy, DPJ Foundation and the Farming Community Network.

Irish dairy farmer Peter Hynes, who is an ambassador for mental health campaign Tackle Your Feelings, has organised the event.

The mental wellbeing campaign is run by Rugby Players Ireland and Zurich. Peter and his wife, Paula, run a 270-acre dairy farm at Aherla, County Cork, with a 180-strong herd.

Peter has been working to reduce the stigma around mental health and provide farmers and people in rural communities with the tools and resources to become more proactive in looking after their emotional wellbeing.

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Help and advice for those having a mental health crisis is available from a number of agencies in Shropshire.

A similar auction held in Ireland back in March raised awareness and more than £17,000 for a suicide prevention charity.

Peter said: “I was happy to set this up and it will help farmers cope with everyday pressures. I would urge them to come along.

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“Having struggled with depression myself and got well with the support of a counsellor, family and friends, I understand it and it is so important that farmers work together and discuss their mental health and wellbeing.”

Peter will also be a guest speaker on the issue at the Semex International Dairy Conference, in Glasgow, from January 12 to 14.

To register for the event at Shrewsbury go to www.eventbrite.ie/e/rearingtogo-conference-workshop and if you are able to donate a calf or breeding hogget, contact peterhynes1979@gmail.com by email.

Mr Oakes said: “Farmers are affected by the same pressures that affect everyone else in society, from finances to relationships.

“On top of this they run business which are particularly vulnerable to external volatility and can face isolation from the very nature of where they farm.

“To give people permission to talk to each other about mental health is all that is needed, we are an industry but we’re a community and communities look after each other.

“Anxiety and depression is not a young person or old person thing, male or female – it can have an impact on us all and mental health is just something we all need to be better at acknowledging and talking about.”

Other sponsors include Farmers Guardian, BASF, Kite Halls, Volac, Semex and Ireland Genetics.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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