Farm helpline under evaluation

A FARM and rural helpline operated by the Health Service Executive South (Cork and Kerry) is receiving an average of 325 calls annually, according to preliminary findings of an evaluation of the service currently being conducted.

HSE South, formerly the Southern Health Board, set up the helpline in 2004 in partnership with Ballyhoura Development and Teagasc. It was the first helpline of its kind in the Republic and was targeted specifically at farmers and people who live in rural areas.

The helpline, 1800 742 645, is aimed at people who may be feeling down, suffering from stress or depression or those who are concerned about someone. It is open daily, 6pm–10pm and is staffed by professionals who offer callers support and advice in complete confidence.

The HSE has informed Labour TD Sean Sherlock in a letter that the efficacy of the helpline has been audited by identifying the number of calls and a detailed account of their nature. It stated that the outcome of this evaluation will provide feedback on the service in order to assist decisions about its future operation.

“Farm and rural stress can be caused by any number of issues ranging from financial difficulties, addiction or abuse to loneliness or relationship problems and much more. These problems can affect everyone, regardless of their occupation, where they live or their age.”

The HSE explained that the main issues discussed are mostly around loneliness or depression, as well as relationship problems, abuse, and specific problems around farming and inheritance.


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