Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Departmental Policies

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Aontú)
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358. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to studies showing Government policies are fuelling a mental health crisis among farmers (details supplied). [11114/23]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Deputy for this question and I acknowledge that mental health is a critical issue facing all of society and farmers are not exempt.

I am aware of studies which have revealed the extent to which Irish farmers are experiencing a range of challenges and stressors that are negatively impacting their mental health. They highlight the importance of mental health initiatives to support farmers.

This Government has prioritised farm safety, health and wellbeing and my Department secured dedicated funding of €2.5m for a range of initiatives including initiatives to support increased awareness of mental health among farmers in Budget 23.

My Department, with the HSE and the Department of Health, is co-funding a farmers physical and mental health awareness programme called, ‘On Feirm Ground’. Approximately 250 agricultural advisors have received training. This year, the programme will be rolled out to Department staff and other professionals coming in regular contact with farmers.

My Department is also funding eight farm safety European Innovation Partnerships projects to the value of €1.8m including four focused on farmers’ mental health.

My Department also provides support for research into farmer mental health. It is funding the DCU ledFarmHealth Research Project which is examining farmers mental health literacy and help-seeking behaviour which will inform the development of an educational mental health intervention for farmers.

My Department supports the work of the HSA’s Farm Safety Partnership and was involved in the publication of its “Farmers’ Health and Wellbeing” booklet, which includes a section on coping with stress and minding your mental health. The booklet is included in the BISS 2023 packs currently being issued to farmers.

I want to reassure the Deputy that farm safety, health and wellbeing is a priority for me and my colleague, Minister of State Martin Heydon T.D, who has special responsibility in this area.


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