Farmer stress management - some early study results

Drirwin

Member
Dear All,
Some of you may remember taking part in an online survey examining farmer stress and stress management a few months ago. The student has now completed his thesis and was very pleased to recruit more than 150 farmers for his study (for which he gained an A-grade) - big thanks to all who took part!

We will be writing the data up as a full paper over summer, but in the meantime I thought you might like to have an early preview of some of the results regarding reported stress management tactics, illustrated as a concept map below. In addition to those general results you might be interested to know that many farmers took a practical approach to managing stress in the fictional scenarios - so rather than deal with feelings of stress potential mental health issues via a GP, counsellor or other mental health support (such as RSABI) the majority set out plans to deal with the actual stressor - e.g. if you are struggling with paperwork get some admin support, if you can't manage your accounts hire an accountant. This inter-play between practicalities and acknowledgement of the need to get some space from work, alongside socialising or doing something different, meshes with general industrial stress management interventions in research from other industries such as aviation and manufacture. That said its worth saying that not all of our participants reported positive management techniques - some also reported negative or maladaptive coping, indicating an ongoing need for support for farmers.

I will share more detailed results later in the paper writing process, but if you are interested in discussing the overall results you are welcome to give me a shout in the meantime.

Cheers, Amy

Orange and Brown Bubble Map Chart.png
 

DrWazzock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
very nice and thanks for the feedback but.....
If you still have enough spare time and income you can get off the farm and hire people to help you. The crunch occurs, particularly on smaller farms like ours, when, due to falling income and rising expenses, you just can’t afford to hire help, have to do everything yourself and if you take too much time off the jobs pile up out of control and things go rapidly downhill.
So then we have only two choices really. Pack up or carry on as we are and cope with it best we can. Our business has come very close to hitting the buffers several times over the last few years and I commend my family for pulling through those times. It brings a sense of achievement though it is undoubtedly stressful. In some ways it can give us a buzz like climbing a mountain but sometimes it can feel like we are falling off one.
But anybody who thinks there is enough money in this job at this level to hire in any appreciable amount of help or take more time off is sadly mistaken. That might work for public servants etc but it isn’t really an option for self employed one or two man bands. And that is when the real inescapable pressure builds at this level of the job.

I have also found while working as an employee in industry that there was no sympathy for anybody who felt ovwrloaded. Nobody would have been able to take more time off let alone hire in extra help. It was very much a case of either get on with it or bugger off, we don’t carry passengers. Twice I pulled back from the edge of a breakdown and then experienced depression in my job but nobody gave one so I left eventually.

so while I am grateful for the feedback but I find it simplistic and find it does not really understand the fact that many in agriculture are between a rock and a hard place, the only way out being to acknowledge that the stress and hassle just isn’t worth the paltry returns any more. Either that or see it as a challenge that you can rise to, but gird your loins because they will be severely tested.
 

Drirwin

Member
Thanks for your comment...
  • This is a precursor only, distilling comments from 150 farmers into something that can be viewed in a second - designed to be straightforward and only giving a glimpse into the full complexity of the data, which I do state in the original post.
  • Off farm generally refers to a break of an hour or so - a walk, a trip to the pub etc. Plus most view things like the royal highland as a holiday - obviously not talking about long trips away but still highlighting the importance of getting some head space.
  • Many farmers talked about producing more effective ways of working and yes, getting in help when required - often temporary contractors. Your experience might not mesh with that but that’s why it’s important to get opinions and experiences from lots of farmers - it’s different for everyone, your individual experience is not necessarily the rule.
  • Financial pressure was one of the top reported stressors, with lots of different causes, but the diagram in the original post was only giving a flavour of suggested stress management tactics, I also have loads of data on stressors, responses to stress and the impact of stress on work - which I will share later when it’s written up.
You seem to love to criticise the work of others - perhaps that’s your own method of stress relief?? So I am sure I will see more critical posts from you in the future, look forward to it :)
 
Location
Ceredigion
I would hope we all try and manage our stress in different ways , for me that's get on my bike . Yes I know here he goes on about his damn bike again , all I can say is when you home after work have a think on what stresses you most and are there things you can do to avoid that , a back up plan is always helpful in case things go wrong
 

Drirwin

Member
I would hope we all try and manage our stress in different ways , for me that's get on my bike . Yes I know here he goes on about his damn bike again , all I can say is when you home after work have a think on what stresses you most and are there things you can do to avoid that , a back up plan is always helpful in case things go wrong

Totally - lots of different tactics used, and exercise - including cycling - was a big one. Getting head space is really important and can have all kinds of positive benefits, including supporting thinking through issues. It’s great to share tactics, whether it’s via research or individual posts on forums or via chatting to others - you never know who it might help :)
 
Location
Ceredigion
Me in an operating theatre fighting for my life . I'm lucky I'm still here to talk about it

Thinking back I'm not blaming here as I have the fruits of the years of slogging with my family to build up a business , but dad just had to do everything, we could have got contractors in to do the silage , I actually think looking back it would have worked out cheaper , but no he was having none of it , you cant turn the clock back but you can learn by your past mistakes
 

Brisel

Member
NFFN Member
Location
Midlands
Me in an operating theatre fighting for my life . I'm lucky I'm still here to talk about it

Thinking back I'm not blaming here as I have the fruits of the years of slogging with my family to build up a business , but dad just had to do everything, we could have got contractors in to do the silage , I actually think looking back it would have worked out cheaper , but no he was having none of it , you cant turn the clock back but you can learn by your past mistakes

What happened to you that changed your way of life, if you don't mind me asking?
 
very nice and thanks for the feedback but.....
If you still have enough spare time and income you can get off the farm and hire people to help you. The crunch occurs, particularly on smaller farms like ours, when, due to falling income and rising expenses, you just can’t afford to hire help, have to do everything yourself and if you take too much time off the jobs pile up out of control and things go rapidly downhill.
So then we have only two choices really. Pack up or carry on as we are and cope with it best we can. Our business has come very close to hitting the buffers several times over the last few years and I commend my family for pulling through those times. It brings a sense of achievement though it is undoubtedly stressful. In some ways it can give us a buzz like climbing a mountain but sometimes it can feel like we are falling off one.
But anybody who thinks there is enough money in this job at this level to hire in any appreciable amount of help or take more time off is sadly mistaken. That might work for public servants etc but it isn’t really an option for self employed one or two man bands. And that is when the real inescapable pressure builds at this level of the job.

I have also found while working as an employee in industry that there was no sympathy for anybody who felt ovwrloaded. Nobody would have been able to take more time off let alone hire in extra help. It was very much a case of either get on with it or bugger off, we don’t carry passengers. Twice I pulled back from the edge of a breakdown and then experienced depression in my job but nobody gave one so I left eventually.

so while I am grateful for the feedback but I find it simplistic and find it does not really understand the fact that many in agriculture are between a rock and a hard place, the only way out being to acknowledge that the stress and hassle just isn’t worth the paltry returns any more. Either that or see it as a challenge that you can rise to, but gird your loins because they will be severely tested.

Everyone has choices. I can't believe you cannot get off the farm for a few days
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
Everyone has choices. I can't believe you cannot get off the farm for a few days

That's a lovely notion. Who feeds the animals? Milks the cows? Sometimes there is no one to step in.

For me, the stress builds up when I get a chain of events, like the king who lost his kingdom because his horse threw a shoe. Like finding four ewes that needed lambing at 4am with sleet with a gale behind it and me with a bad back.
 

delilah

Member
Hugely important work. Stress is one of those taboo subjects that is quite rightly now talked about more openly.

However. Tin hat on. For anyone who owns property and starts to find it all too much, I recommend a trip into their nearest city, find the most deprived ward, and just wander round the tower blocks and shopping precincts for an afternoon. I consider myself lucky to have worked with people who live and work in such environments, and remind myself regularly that they are the ones with stress way beyond mine.
 
Location
Ceredigion
That's a lovely notion. Who feeds the animals? Milks the cows? Sometimes there is no one to step in.

For me, the stress builds up when I get a chain of events, like the king who lost his kingdom because his horse threw a shoe. Like finding four ewes that needed lambing at 4am with sleet with a gale behind it and me with a bad back.
I've got the medals for that . Nothing more stressful than keeping animals , I really dont know the answer, I sold all mine , still have animals on the farm but make sure who ever brings them is responsible for them . Others dont have that option
 
Location
Ceredigion
Hugely important work. Stress is one of those taboo subjects that is quite rightly now talked about more openly.

However. Tin hat on. For anyone who owns property and starts to find it all too much, I recommend a trip into their nearest city, find the most deprived ward, and just wander round the tower blocks and shopping precincts for an afternoon. I consider myself lucky to have worked with people who live and work in such environments, and remind myself regularly that they are the ones with stress way beyond mine.
That may be the case but counting your blessings dont help the farmer out on the hill in a snow storm with a bad back , it's not a competion either,
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
That may be the case but counting your blessings dont help the farmer out on the hill in a snow storm with a bad back , it's not a competion either,

And when he comes down off that hill, there will be a pile of red tape to deal with. I'm lucky, I'm old and can now tell them what to do with it. What are they going to do to me? Kill me? Better be quick while the opportunity is still there!:D
 

Bald Rick

Moderator
Livestock Farmer
Location
Anglesey
Stress is KNOWING that there is another problem just around the corner.
Destressing is fixing it or realising that it is beyond your control (Government edict/weather)
 
Location
Ceredigion
I'm simply pointing out that, for anyone with an asset to sell, they are in the fortunate minority, most on this planet have nothing.
Being fortunate dont help though does it
Like saying to a man with Cancer , but you are fortunate
I have a friend who lives in the park in brighton . Has nothing but what people give him , I asked him.one day if I could help him find a house somewhere to sleep even. He said god no . I could not take the stress of all that.
 

Is Red tractor detrimental to your mental health?

  • Yes, Red tractor increase my stress and anxiety

    Votes: 272 98.6%
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HSENI names new farm safety champions

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

Farm-safety-640x360.png
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) alongside the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), has named new farm safety champions and commended the outstanding work on farm safety that has been carried out in the farming community in the last 20 years.

Two of these champions are Malcom Downey, retired principal inspector for the Agri/Food team in HSENI and Harry Sinclair, current chair of the Farm Safety Partnership and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Improving farm safety is the key aim of HSENI’s and the FSP’s work and...
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