Farmer Survey Results – 57% Impacted To Some Degree By Anxiety

The ‘state of the nation’ survey – conducted with almost 3,000 farmer participants in recent days by AgriLand and Empathy Research – has revealed startling statistics on mental health.

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As part of the study, participants were asked the question:                                                              “Have you, or anyone closely related to you, been impacted by any of the following over the past 12 months?”

Issues highlighted included: feelings of depression / severe sadness; feelings of anxiety; and suicide / attempted suicide.

Options given included: “yes, me personally”; “yes, someone close to me”; “no”; and “prefer not to say”. Multiple answers were allowed, with some participants selecting two answers for each.

The findings made for concerning reading – 46% of participants were impacted to some degree by the first issue: feelings of depression / severe sadness. This included: 26% of respondents saying “yes, me personally”; and 23% saying “yes, someone close to me”.

48% said that they were not affected by depression or severe sadness.

Younger participants were more inclined to say that they were affected, with 53% of those aged under 34 selecting “yes” of some form. This reduced to 50% of the 35-39 year-old respondents, with 49% or less of all categories of those aged over 40 saying affirmative.

Even more farmer respondents were affected to some degree by feelings of anxiety – some 57% overall.


37% said they were affected personally, while 23% had someone close to them affected. Meanwhile, 39% said that they were not affected.

Age wise, 35-39 year-old participants had the highest percentage of those who said they were affected with 64% choosing this. Next most prevalent were the 30-34 year category, on 60%. Older age groups who said “yes” were 59% or less.

Finally, 8% of participants said they had been affected by suicide or attempted suicide. 2% said they were affected personally, while 6% said the issue impacted someone close to them.

87% of respondents said that they were not affected by suicide or attempted suicide.

(Source – Agriland – Sylvester Phelan – 19/09/2019)


‘I’ve Been Through The Long Dark Tunnel’ – Meet The Champion Sheep Shearer Who’s An Advocate For Mental Health

The first day of the 2019 National Ploughing is in full swing as a record crowd is expected through the gates in Fenagh, Co Carlow.

Sheep shearer George Graham showing Mícheál Ó Scannail his craft at National Ploughing Championships  Pic. David Conachy

Sheep shearer George Graham showing Mícheál Ó Scannail his craft at National Ploughing Championships Pic. David Conachy

Over 1,700 exhibitors will ply their trade at this, the 88th instalment of Europe’s largest outdoor event.

One such vendor is former Champion sheep shearer-cum-mental health advocate George Graham.

The Wexford farmer has held a number of Irish records and represented Ireland 10 times at the Golden Shears World Championships.

The former champion, who has worked shearing in nine countries was also recently appointed Chair of Golden Shears World Council following the retirement of Greg Herrick.

Speaking ahead of the All Ireland Lamb Shearing Championships 2019 which will be held on Wednesday at The National Ploughing Championships, Mr Graham said that along with promoting shearing and the processes involved with doing so safely, it is his priority to spread a message of mental wellbeing in farming.

“I have been through the long dark tunnel with mental health issues myself,” he told

“I’ve seen an awful time with farm safety and accidents and things like that, so I talk about my own story of mental health across Ireland for different groups, from all lines of life, and it’s something I’m very passionate about and give a lot of time to.Top of FormBottom of Form

“It’s seriously important and it’s a major problem. There is serious pressure on farmers and a lot of problems out there so it’s a major problem in farming. It can happen to anybody from any walk of life.”

Mr Graham said that the routine methodical work of sheep shearing, along with the people he meets, are good for his mental health. He did say, however, that the job can put undue stress on farmers.

“It probably helps me meeting with people all the time and moving around, but it can probably create a lot of pressure on people, but I’ve learned how to handle that and deal with it now. So, it can create a lot of pressure too, but it certainly does help me.

“One of my first things with mental health is, I’ll always say, ‘take that first step will ya, there is a light.’

Sheep Shearer George Grahan showing Ryan Tubridy his craft at National Ploughing Championships Pic. David Conachy

Sheep Shearer George Grahan showing Ryan Tubridy his craft at National Ploughing Championships Pic. David Conachy

“Now what I mean when I say take that first step is, a lot of people will say ‘why don’t you talk to a member of your family or go to a doctor?’ That can be very hard to do. I’d ring up a friend and just see if you can have a chat with him.

“You mightn’t talk about mental health at all but it’s just taking that first step and getting the weight off your shoulders. Not everybody needs medication but it’s just to talk to someone.

“Because with mental health of you leave something it will just keep eating and eating away at you.

“I’ve been through that long dark tunnel but if you take that first step, there is a light.”

(Source – Irish Independent – Indo Farming – Mícheál Ó Scannáil – 17/09/2019)

George Graham was the keynote speaker at the 2017 MED Partnership AGM

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