For Oral Answer on : 25/10/2022
Question Number(s): 71 Question Reference(s): 53221/22
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the measures that have been put in place by his Department to support the mental health and well-being of farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I thank the Deputy for asking this question on such an important topic.
This Government has prioritised farm safety, health and wellbeing. Dedicated funding of €2.25m was allocated in Budget 2022 for a range of initiatives including initiatives to support increased awareness of the importance of mental health among farmers.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has co-funded, with the HSE and the Department of Health, a farmers physical and mental health awareness programme called, ‘On Feirm Ground’. The programme developed a ‘Train the Trainer’ programme that is currently being delivered nationally to those employed as farmer advisors. It is providing training for agricultural advisors to engage with and signpost farmers to supports in relation to health and wellbeing.
To date, over 225 agricultural advisors have been trained with a target to deliver the programme to 800 farm advisors. The Department is currently engaging with other professionals coming in regular contact with farmers and plans to expand this programme further in 2023.
In July last year, the Department funded eight farm safety European Innovation Partnerships (EIP’s) projects to the value of €1.8m. Four of these projects are focused on around the mental health of people in the farming community. The projects focus on addressing challenges around farm safety, health and well-being through innovative approaches which encourage a change in behaviour from the bottom up. Additional funding has been made available to extend these projects into 2023.
The Department is also providing support for research into farmer mental health. Funding has been provided for the FarMHealth Research Project – the DCU study examining farmers mental health literacy & help-seeking behaviour. Results from this study will inform the development of an educational mental health intervention for farmers.
The Department supports the work of the HSA’s Farm Safety Partnership and was recently involved in the publication of its booklet on “Farmers’ Health and Wellbeing – A Guide to Staying Healthy While Farming”. The booklet includes a section on coping with stress and minding your mental health.
As I mentioned at the outset, farm safety, health and wellbeing is a priority for me and my colleague, Minister of State Martin Heydon T.D, the first Minister of State with special responsibility for farm safety. Dedicated funding has been increased to €2.5m in Budget 2023 which will continue to build on the Department’s efforts to improve farm safety, health and wellbeing.
There is no profession as rewarding as agriculture so we must do all we can to ensure that it is safe and rewarding environment for our farm families.