IFA president Joe Healy has encouraged farm families to attend and support ‘Let’s Talk and Walk’ forest walks organised by IFA in partnership with See Change, Coillte, and Mental Health Ireland in support of the Green Ribbon campaign for the month of May.
Nine walks have been organised in venues throughout the country during May - which is Green Ribbon month – which is dedicated to encouraging people to End Mental Health Stigma. Here in Co Cork, the Forest Walk will take place on Sunday, May 19th, in Doneraile Park at 3pm.
The IFA president said this has been a particularly tough year for many farm families.
‘The uncertainty of Brexit and continued high input costs and low prices have added stress and strain on farm families.
‘The walks will provide an opportunity for friends, families and communities to connect while being mindful of their own and others’ mental health and wellbeing.’
IFA National Farm Family & Social Affairs Chair, Caroline Farrell said that this is the seventh year that IFA has organised the walks and they have proved to be extremely popular. They provide an opportunity for rural communities to show their support for a very worthwhile campaign by taking time out from farming and to spend with family and friends.
By getting together and talking openly about mental health issues, we have found that there is greater acceptance of mental health issues, and people realise they are not alone.
Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health, Jim Daly, welcomed the ‘Let’s Talk and Walk’ initiative, commenting: ‘We know that individuals who often work alone – like farmers – are identified as a priority group within our national strategy to reduce suicide, Connecting for Life. People working in this area can often feel isolated and may not be aware of how to access supports.
‘These walks will help to strengthen connections within the farming and wider community, while sharing knowledge about what supports and services can maintain positive mental health.’
Managing director of Coillte, Mark Carlin, said Coillte is delighted to continue their support again this year for the Green Ribbon - Let’s Talk & Walk initiative. The health benefits to both our physical and mental wellness from contact with forests and nature is well established and this initiative aims to encourage everyone to get outdoors and use our forests, trails and recreation parks as a place to focus on improving our mental wellness, a challenge we all face in this increasingly fast-paced and hectic world.
‘Coillte is very proud to able to host a number of the events around the country to help raise public awareness of mental health and encourage everyone to begin to talk about or support others in acknowledging and coping with the challenges they may be facing. I hope that everyone enjoys a walk in one of the many outstanding forest venues for this event and encourages their friends and family to participate.’
Martin Rogan, CEO at Mental Health Ireland, said: ‘The Let’s Talk and Walk series of walks create a space to spend some uninterrupted time with our friends and family away from the many everyday distractions. Being outdoors in nature, enjoying good company while getting some gentle exercise really promotes positive mental health and a sense of wellbeing.
‘We are delighted to partner with the IFA, See Change and Coillte on these unique community walks and we hope you can join us at one of the listed locations, for a great day out.’
Director of See Change, John Saunders said you don’t need to be an expert to start talking about mental health and you don’t have to have all the answers, sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is listen and let someone know that you are there for them.
‘Stigma is a barrier to recovery and prevents people from seeking help. By wearing the Green Ribbon during the month of May you can help put a stop to stigma.’
In conclusion, Mr Saunders urged people to take part in the upcoming walk in Doneraile which is always a very enjoyable day out.