A WEST Cork farmer who helped start the conversation about mental health in the agricultural community is working hard to keep it in the spotlight in 2019.
Award-winning dairy farmer Peter Hynes, from Aherla, is one of the driving forces behind a campaign designed to create awareness around mental health and wellbeing, highlighting the importance of talking to each other, remaining positive, seeking help if required and removing any stigma.
Peter, and his wife Paula, along with Angela Hayes from Kilkenny, who tragically lost both her husband and son Thomas to suicide have come together, helped by Helen Carroll of RTE’s Ear to the Ground, to launch the campaign called Rearing to Go.
As well as the awareness element of the initiative, they are also organising a charity calf auction in Corrin Mart on March 2nd next.
The family-friendly day will have celebrity auctioneers and prizes for those who donate animals as well as the buyers.
Peter said their target was €20,000 with proceeds going to Teac Tom, which is an initiative started by the Hayes family to support individuals and their families affected by suicide or contemplating suicide.
He said they’ve already had huge support for the auction both from companies such as Dairygold, Volac and Cork Marts and individual farmers.
‘We’re looking for dairy-bred heifer calves or if farmers don’t have a surplus, Angus or Hereford calves with plenty of incentives for those who donate,’ he said.
Each farmer who donates a calf will be given a bag of Volac Heiferlac and a bag of Dairygold calf pride nuts.
There will also be a prize for the highest genetic merit calf donated and for the purchaser of the highest-priced calf.
‘So far we’ve around 20 animals donated from all over the country, with a target of around 50,’ he added.
A third strand of the campaign, sees the Rearing to Go Twitter account taken over each Saturday by a farmer who has struggled with mental health.
‘People have the option to give their names or not, but so far everyone has. It’s so important we keep this conversation going as it’s something that touches every community and household in some way. In times of the fodder crisis for example, it’s something that’s discussed, but when that crisis ends, the conversation ends, but mental health issues don’t.
‘We are facing into a busy Spring and, if people can manage their mental health, they’ll be in a good place when the pressures come on. We hope the campaign will help people to open up.’
• See www.thethomashayestrust.com for more.
Get Active 2019 is free with Thursday's Southern Star and includes features on walking, swimming, boxing, gyms, cycling nutrition and much more.