NFUs stress advice comes under attack

28 January 2000

NFUs stress advice comes under attack

STRESS counsellors have criticised the advice of a leading NFU official who urged farmers to ask doctors for sleeping pills or anti-depressants before sorting out their business problems.

Marshall Taylor, chairman of Somerset NFU, suggested a five-point plan for personal survival in the latest issue of the unions regional journal. Farmers are often too depressed to cope with financial pressures or know which way to turn, he said.

Producers with problems should go to someone for help, if necessary to a doctor for medication, as the first step towards turning around their business fortunes, said Mr Taylor, who farms near Taunton. Farmers should only call in a consultant to examine their businesses when they were healthy and focused and in a fit state to do so, he added.

Mr Taylor said: "The overriding problem is that farmers are very sensitive and terrible at taking advice. If you say to anyone that they are suffering from some sort of depression they think you are saying they are going insane.

"I am not saying that at all, but I do believe that for some farmers the business situation is so bad that they cant sleep at night and I do not think it is at all dishonourable for them to go to their doctors to ask for something to help them get to sleep."

But the Samaritans, who provide a free confidential helpline for people in an emotional crisis, said that "simply talking through their problems" was the best thing farmers could do.

"We are telling farmers that it is better to talk openly about their feelings and the issues in their lives to try to work through their problems," said a spokesman for the organisation. "Some people may need medication at some stage but what we are saying to farmers is that, basically, it is OK to talk."

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