‘Open up’ urges Samaritans as 1 in 3 calls raise isolation

Samaritans Ireland is urging members of the farming community to open up about their mental health as the winter approaches, following several months of adverse weather conditions.

Samaritans volunteers will attend the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore to meet people, raise awareness of the support it offers, and listen to anyone who may need emotional support.

Cindy O’Shea, lead volunteer and regional director for Ireland, said it is important for people in rural Ireland to realise they can pick up the phone, day or night, and hear a caring voice when they reach out.

She said there has been a ‘massive’ increase in the amount of calls being received recording loneliness and isolation. One-in-three callers report those issues, she said.

Samaritans in the Republic of Ireland answered over 625,000 calls and sent 25,000 text replies in 2017.

Loneliness, stress, depression and money worries are among the issues which affect rural communities and farmers.

“This year the fodder crisis and the long-term effects of the adverse weather conditions, from our spring snow to the summer drought, have had a greater impact on the lives and livelihoods of many people. Anecdotally, we know that this particular issue has prompted farmers to contact us.

“If you need to talk, Samaritans volunteers are here to listen. Call us on freephone at: 116 123; text at: 087-2609090; or email at: [email protected]

Availability

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by phone, text or email, offering a safe supportive space for anyone to talk about issues affecting them.

Volunteers from Athlone, Newbridge, Ennis, Drogheda and festival branches will be at the Samaritans Ireland stand in the health and wellness exhibition arena – Block 2; Row 29; Stand 619; Unit 14 – as well as mingling with the crowds across the site.

IFA farm family chair, Caroline Farrell, said the challenges for farmers this year have been unprecedented, particularly due to the extreme weather events which added significantly to their workload and costs.

We are always encouraging farmers to seek out support if they find the pressure becomes too much. The work done by the Samaritans is invaluable in providing time for farmers to talk to somebody about what is troubling them.

“Their service is an important resource for those farmers who may be isolated and who don’t have back-up.

Anyone can contact Samaritans any time from any phone on: 116 123. This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill.

Alternatively you can text: 087-2609090 (standard rates apply); or email at: [email protected]; or go to: www.samaritans.ie to find details of your local branch where you can speak with a trained volunteer face-to-face.