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An initiative to support mental health within the farming community has been launched by ICOS Skillnet, the learning and development division of ICOS.

The programme will start with two online workshops in June aimed at advising and helping participants to recognise and cope with mental health issues.

The course covers the various mental health risks that can arise for farmers as lone workers. It outlines how they can recognise the warning signs of deteriorating mental health, both in themselves and others, showing how they can engage with and support neighbours and family who are experiencing mental health difficulties. It outlines the supports available to them and how to access these. The course also informs on how to look after and improve their own mental health and emphasises the importance of staying connected and managing stress.

ICOS Skillnet has teamed up with the Chris Mee group, one of the largest providers of health and safety related education and training in Ireland, and the course will be delivered by a professional skilled in the area of mental health. The workshops are designed to provide information including practical tips and advice that will be useful to all farmers at any time now or in the future.

Billy Goodburn of ICOS Skillnet said, “It’s essential to understand that everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives. It’s good to know that this is a common experience for very many people and that people are not alone in this, even if their work or career has a solitary element to it, as in farming.   This programme is about prevention and promoting ongoing good mental health in the farming community.”

ICOS Skillnet ran a similar series of workshops last year and these proved very beneficial according to feedback from participants. The course is free of charge and will initially have a maximum of 10 persons each for workshops being held on 3rd and 10th June, from 10.30 am – 1.00 pm.

Anyone interested in taking part can email ICOS Skillnet at info@icosskillnet.ie or call Breeda Flood at 086 827 7814 or Billy Goodburn at 087 126 5542