Seeking professional help for mental stress not sign of weakness

Q: I am not sure how to help my husband. I see him looking through the bedroom window every morning when we get up.

Apart from a few non-eventful showers, the rains have simply not blessed us this year. I know that my husband is discouraged. He does not say much. I would like him to sit down and talk to someone about how he is feeling. It is hard for him to talk to me.

He seems to think that he has disappointed me and that makes it difficult for him to be as open as I might like.

I keep thinking that a good counsellor might help but I am not sure that I can get him to one. What can I do?

A: A number of years ago, studies on depression talked about farm life in England. They found that those working and living on farms were more susceptible to depression than those living in larger urban environments.

People working and living in the country were also less inclined to go for professional help. In other words, those who suffered the most got the least help.

Rural residents did not think that counsellors had enough insight into life on the farm to be of much use to them. They did not think the counsellors really understood their problems.

Can a counsellor know how helpless a person facing a drought feels or share the humiliation of yet again having to talk to the banker?

Can a counsellor know what it is like to have wasted gasoline, time, energy, money and all of those dreams on a crop that disappointed the whole family?

Can a counsellor know what it is like to have to say to your children that everyone has to cut back for a while?

This is more than a disappointing crop. For many farmers, a bad year cuts right into the cloth of “who I think I am as a person.”

Fortunately, there are those who can help. Counsellors have learned to appreciate the extent to which farm life can be personally challenging. They know how lonely farmers can feel. They are there to listen, encourage and support farmers making their way through a difficult year.

It is amazing how once that emotional overhang is removed, most farmers can come up strategies for making their way through the tough years.

  • Breathing and relaxation routines can slow down the day and get you thinking about the present tense instead of worrying about the future
  • Engage in physical activity each day by taking a walk or a run
  • Get sufficient sleep and eat well balanced meals
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Seek help from professionals, as needed. That includes regular medical checkups

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