Imagine you’ve got an issue on your farm that you don’t know how to resolve. Things are getting steadily worse over time and you’re very much aware that without assistance things will continue to decline.
You also know your neighbour or someone else within your network has dealt with a similar issue before, and you could ask them for help. And deep down, you know they’d probably assist.
So why can it be so difficult to raise the topic and ask the question?
Why do we suffer in silence?
There are many reasons why someone might not ask for help, but frequently it can be because of a few similar worries and concerns.
Many who may require help feel like they are a burden on others and that they would be imposing on someone else to ask them for assistance.
When things are going wrong, there can be a sense that you have failed, and that you should know how to resolve whatever the issue is you are experiencing without looking to others.
Particularly when working as part of a larger business or with a family, it can be difficult to admit when you don’t have all the answers. Many of us are prideful people, and this pride can make it difficult to seek support – we might wonder what the neighbours would think, or fear that news of our issue could travel fast and undermine us in some way.
For those experiencing mental ill-health, there are other reasons why we might shy away from seeking help. Many with depression or other forms of mental ill-health close themselves off from others, and intentionally – or subconsciously – isolate themselves from the people around them.
What can we do about it?
When things aren’t working correctly or an issue isn’t being resolved, in most instances the longer you leave it unchecked the worse things will become. Early intervention is always important – whether the issue is health-related, business-related or wellbeing-related, making an effort to get help before things reach a point of crisis is vitally important.
It may be embarrassing to ask for help, or give our personal pride a bit of a knock – but this is much less damaging than the potential outcomes of burying our head in the sand and keeping the issue to ourselves.
It is important, particularly in farming where people are working long hours and often in isolated conditions, that we check in on our friends and neighbours where possible and see how they’re getting on. Those who might benefit from some help may not wish to initiate conversations, but if they are asked how they’re doing may find that they’re more comfortable talking about the challenges they’re facing and letting off steam.
By doing our part to let those around us know we are there for them if they need it, and reducing the associated stigma, we can alleviate some of the sense of guilt people may feel in asking for help.
What help is available?
FCN and other charities and organisations are here to help farmers and farming families going through difficult times. Many FCN volunteers are from farming backgrounds themselves and understand the unique pressures farmers face. FCN runs a free, confidential Helpline (03000 111 999) which is open 7am-11pm every day of the year, as well as an e-Helpline (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Getting in touch with FCN is a good starting point if you’re going through a tough time on your farm. Our volunteers - based in England and Wales and with strong local connections - will listen and support you, and can connect you with other forms of support depending on your individual situation. Every year we help approximately 6,000 farmers and farming families with all sorts of issues – including financial difficulties, animal disease, mental health and family disputes.
FCN’s FarmWell (https://farmwell.org.uk/) platform is a great online resource for accessing useful information around staying safe and healthy on the farm and taking care of your farm business. The website is regularly updated and serves as a one-stop hub that can hopefully give you some useful information and additional contacts to follow up with, should you need it.
There are many forms of help out there and many individuals who want to help you. Taking that first step can be challenging – but FCN is here to walk with you on that journey.
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Farming Community Network
This month we’ve teamed up with FCN to show our support for everybody across the farming community with our #SpeakUpBeHerd campaign, and our #MarchIntoMarch community challenge.
You can stay up-to-date with all of the latest #SpeakUpBeHerd activities by following us on Facebook and Twitter, where you can find more info on our upcoming Facebook live event, and share your own community challenge updates!