‘Farming is a lonely occupation and this has a negative impact on mental health’

Farming is a lonely occupation and this has a negative impact on the mental health of farmers, according to Ashlinn Flood.

The fourth year student from St. Leo’s College in Co. Carlow, interviewed 400 farmers as part of a Young Scientist project, looking at attitudes towards mental health and awareness among farmers.

Her findings show that the loneliness associated with farming is one of the main reasons that some farmers suffer from mental health issues.

The surveys were carried out as part of a BT Young Scientist entry, with the help of her teacher Fiona McManus.

She also said that the majority of farmers are willing to talk to those closest to them about their struggles with mental health, but many farmers do not take the next step and seek outside help.

The majority of farmers questioned said they would not talk to a councillor but they had no issue in talking to family or friends about mental health issues.

She also said that there was a lot of work involved in the project as she aimed to survey at least 400 farmers in Co. Carlow to get sufficient results.

“To complete the project, I went to local marts and asked farmers to complete surveys on the topic of mental health.

“So far, I have carried out two rounds of surveys and I have collected data from over 200 farmers, but I plan to survey 400 farmers in total.”

I have analysed the first batch of surveys and it is amazing some of the results that have been generated. I am hearing a lot of personal stories, but it is nice to be making a difference.

The BT Young Scientist exhibition takes place in Dublin from January 6-9.