‘Ask for help’ urges See Change ambassador farmer

A Wexford dairy farmer who is an ambassador for See Change, Ireland’s national mental health stigma reduction partnership, is urging farmers facing difficulties to reach out for help.

Patrick Hipwell from Bunclody has organised a number of events over the last year including the turning green of the Wexford County Council building at Carricklawn as part of See Change’s green ribbon campaign. He got involved with See Change through Macra at county and national executive level.

See Change’s vision is that every person in Ireland can be open and positive about mental health, understanding it as a normal part of the ups and downs of life.

Conceal

Research conducted by See Change in 2017 showed that four in 10 people would conceal a mental health difficulty from family, friends or colleagues. With this in mind, See Change works to reduce stigma in a number of ways.

Patrick, whose work is primarily focused on awareness raising within rural communities, has organised meetings, sported green ribbons around his farm and taken part in the Enniscorthy St. Patrick’s Day parade and Coillte walks. He has also planned a mass focused on mental health, for January.

Only ones

Isolation is a key problem for many farmers, with financial pressure also being to the fore in the current climate of Mercosur and Brexit, he said.

With less opportunities for interaction in rural communities nowadays, farmers can get bogged down and think they are the only ones experiencing a problem, the See Change ambassador said.

If you’re having difficulties with something, it’s important to remember that someone else will have gone through it. Just pick up the phone and ask for help. You don’t have to suffer on your own.

“10 or 15 years ago, there were three and four people working on a lot of farms; now that’s down to one in most cases,” Patrick said.

Sometimes farmers keep worries to themselves when others are in a position to help them, he said.

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