‘Talk the Walk’: Farmers urged to join forest walks for mental health

Farm families are being encouraged to attend and support a series of forest walks in a number of venues around the country in support of the Green Ribbon campaign for the month of May.

The Green Ribbon campaign looks to end the stigma around mental health, and May is the official month for the initiative.

The ‘Let’s Talk the Walk’ walks are organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), the See Change organisation, Coillte and Mental Health Ireland.

Nine walks have been organised throughout ‘Green Ribbon’ month.

IFA president Joe Healy said that this cause was particularly important for the farming community.

“The uncertainty of Brexit and continued high input costs and low prices have added stress and strain on farm families. The walks will provide an opportunity for friends, families and communities to connect, while being mindful of their own and others’ mental health and wellbeing,” said Healy.

This is the seventh year that the walks have been organised, and they have proved “extremely popular” according to Caroline Farrell, chairperson of the IFA’s National Farm Family and Social Affairs committee.

The initiative was launched today, with Minister of State for Mental Health Jim Daly in attendance.

We know that individuals who often work alone – like farmers – are identified as a priority group within our national strategy to reduce suicide, Connecting for Life.

“People working in this area can often feel isolated and may not be aware of how to access supports. These walks will help to strengthen connections within the farming and wider community, while sharing knowledge about what supports and services can maintain positive mental health,” said Minister Daly.

Meanwhile, Coillte managing director Mark Carlin said: “Coillte is very proud to be able to host a number of the events around the country to help raise public awareness of mental health and encourage everyone to begin to talk about or support others in acknowledging and coping with the challenges they may be facing.”