Teagasc will host a seminar addressing farmer mental health and well-being next week as part of their BeSafe Project.

The seminar, which will be held on Monday, May 16, will take place at the Teagasc Conference Centre in Ashtown, Co. Dublin from 2:00p.m to 4:00p.m.

Summaries of recent and ongoing research in Ireland focused on well-being and mental health among farmers and farm workers will be given on the day, as well as addresses from multiple speakers.

Following the research presentation, an open discussion will take place on identifying ways of improving the sustainability of farmers, which will be chaired by Dr. David Meredith of Teagasc’s Rural Economy Development Programme.

The event comes as recent research highlighted that 27% of farmers reported their well-being as ‘poor’ or ‘below average’, and a further study found that the most common sources of work-related stress are weather, workload and money.

Attendees will also hear from UK expert on mental health and well-being in agriculture, Dr. David Christian Rose, from Reading University. Rose currently runs the ‘Change in Agriculture’ research group at the university, which explores changes in policy, innovation, and technology, and how they affect farmers, food production, and the environment.

Speaking about the upcoming seminar, he said:

“Farmers face a unique set of acute and chronic stressors, including farm bureaucracy; climatic conditions; animal and crop disease outbreaks; time pressures; work-place hazards; rural crime; finance; isolation; machinery breakdowns; and media criticism.

“External shocks such as the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit can generate new acute stressors for farmers and rural communities and intensify existing chronic stressors.”

Rose explained that when all of these factors are combined, they can create distress and uncertainty for many farmers and negatively impact their mental health, and the wider sector.

The event is free, however attendees must register to attend on the Teagasc website.