Mental Health Awareness Week: Mental Health In Agriculture & How Gardening Can Improve Mental Health
This week is mental health awareness week in the UK, this movement is hosted by the mental health foundation. The subject this year is loneliness. According to the mental health foundation, one in four adults feel lonely some or all of the time, as you can imagine this issue has gotten worse as a result of the lockdowns where many of us had little in-person contact. This is an under-discussed topic within the Agriculture Industry, with the office of National Statistics showing an unfortunately high rate of suicide among farmers within the UK.
To kick off this week the Farm safety Foundation has put out another wonderful video depicting just how easy it is for farmers, who typically work alone most of the time to feel lonely and the toll this can take on their mental health. The farm safety foundation has created multiple videos to bring awareness to mental health which is a rising concern within the Farming community as pressures continue to rise financially including this hard-hitting video as part of their #AskTwice campaign.
This week’s blog focuses on how gardening can be used to improve mental health. We all know that typically when we have low mood going outside for some fresh air is the first recommendation and can help clear our minds a little. Numerous studies are numerous studies condoning the use of nature and gardening as therapeutic outlets to aid in improving mental health.
And due to this, there have been many projects set up, including the Trellis therapeutic gardening network which consists of projects in communities, hospitals, prisons, care homes, etc. The beauty of this practice is that it can be tailored to the individual’s needs, depending on if they need interaction or solitude or if they need mental stimulation or to switch off, it is versatile and the experience can be tailored to suit the individual. While there are interesting studies to support this practice there is little literature or studies surrounding the long-term viability and so many people use this activity as support or outlet but are reluctant to rely on it solely as a crutch for their mental health.
However, as hobbies go, this one has shown to have a positive impact on mental health, specifically including:
There is evidence to suggest that even looking at a green space can have small but positive impacts on a person’s mood and can assist in helping them to relax, while the act of gardening itself can result in a sense of achievement which also aids in boosting both confidence and self-esteem.
One of the many gardening schemes to improve mental health is thrive, this has many projects, one of which focuses on overcoming social isolation either as the result of circumstances or the current pandemic.
As well as collaborative projects or schemes the fact that this hobby has a large, social, interactive community can help those who struggle to interact and having a community of people with shared interests can promote socialization.
Giving an escape
As previously mentioned, the beauty of gardening is that it can be tailored. Despite it being a place to overcome isolation, it can also be a place to indulge in it. Gardening can be a group activity or an individual task. It gives you a judgment-free space to escape and let out any frustrations or to de-stress in peace away from the noise of the rest of the world. For some the solitude itself is therapeutic.
While gardening brings in a multitude of benefits, it is not to be relied upon as the backbone of your mental health support.
For those working in the Agriculture industry where there is a lot of growing industry pressure, there can be a time when it gets overwhelming. Below is a list of dedicated support sites and helplines for those working within the industry. Alongside this are some general resources and support that anyone can access.
Emotional, financial, and practical support for those in the farming and agriculture sector
Free, confidential phone and web-based service for individuals with low mood, depression and anxiety in Scotland
A voluntary charity that supports farmers and those who live a rural life in business, personal, health, and family matters.
This group runs judgment-free talking groups at numerous sites across the UK with the overall goal of decreasing the suicide rates of men and destigmatizing men’s mental health