Farmer Focus: Sharing mental health problems a great relief

Officially I am unemployed from all off-farm activities.

I have sat down to pen my last article for Farmers Weekly only days after I gave up my post as NFU Scotland vice-president on Friday 8 February.

It has been a great honour to serve Scottish farmers over the past two years and I’ve been lucky to see many parts of Scotland for the first time.

I’d like to offer my thanks for the support I’ve received from members and staff over this period.

The role of vice-president has been an eye-opener in terms of the time and commitment.

See also: Fit2Farm: How to recognise and deal with stress

At times it was very difficult for me to run my business as a sole trader at home and I found moving focus between union work and the farm very challenging.

At our AGM I shared some of the mental issues that began to plague my thoughts in a negative manner as a farmer and a representative for our industry.

It was a difficult subject to share, but it was a great relief for me. I have been totally overwhelmed by the feedback from many people of all ages who listened.

I would recommend anyone who is struggling themselves at all to please listen to it on the NFU Scotland Facebook page as it was recorded live.

As I look to the year ahead, one thing I want to improve is staff management.

We have regular staff meetings and we tend to talk about the same issues every month, with little change.

I came across an interesting slide online about managing change. The five areas of change are listed as vision, skills, incentives, resources and action plan – miss one out and you fail.

My other observation lately is clutter. Our lives are full of it, whether it’s the office, workshop or the dairy.

Tidiness is a reflection on discipline, so I can assure you West Galdenoch will be receiving a massive clearout over the next few months.

Lastly, I would like to thank Farmers Weekly for the opportunity to share my story over the past three years and for the many comments I received from farmers reading it.


Gary Mitchell is a Farmer Focus writer from South West Scotland. Read his biography.