Macra is to deliver a pilot mental health training programme to 150 students in agricultural colleges across Ireland before the end of next month, the organisation has announced.

Through its mental health programme ‘Make the Move’, Macra will provide tailored, specific training to students across the country over the coming weeks and months.

As the first of its kind, Macra said, the training is developed specifically to meet the needs of the students and aims to address the factors affecting their mental wellbeing. 

The training will run on a pilot basis between now and Christmas, and is funded by Mental Health Ireland and supported and facilitated by Teagasc, according to Macra.

Macra president, John Keane said the organisation hopes to deliver this pilot training programme to around 150 students over three separate sessions before the end of November. He continued:

“We have also planned [to expand the programme] over the next number of months, and to develop specific training programmes for older age groups working in and supporting agriculture.”

Macra’s pilot programme is informed by the issues identified by young rural people as affecting their mental wellbeing, including financial pressures; succession on farm; social media; and the negative perception of farming in the general public.

World Mental Health Day

To mark World Mental Health Day today (Monday, October 10), Keane said the topic needs to be highlighted and spoken about in rural communities. He added that everyone has a role to play in breaking down the stigma around mental health.

A survey recently conducted by researchers at University College Dublin (UCD) has shown that government policies designed to reduce climate change are the biggest stress factor for farmers.

Farm stress was associated with higher suicidality and distress, with over one fifth (23.4%) of surveyed farmers considered to be at risk of suicide, and 55.5% experiencing moderate to extremely severe depression.

The UCD project aims to identify risk factors for suicide and poor mental health among farmers, and is funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE) National Office for Suicide Prevention.