Farm & Rural Stress Helpline A Lifeline For Rural People


The HSE South’s Farm & Rural Stress Helpline - 1800 742 645 - was established as a practical response to help address the issue of loneliness and isolation experienced by people living in rural areas in Cork and Kerry. The helpline is open daily from 6.00pm – 10.00pm and is staffed by professionals who offer callers a listening ear, support and advice in complete confidence.

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. However, people who live in rural communities are often affected by additional issues such as isolation; not just feeling lonely, but real physical isolation where they are miles from their nearest neighbour or village. Lack of public transport and little access to services can also be a real challenge and can compound other problems that people may be experiencing in their lives.

Callers to the helpline get solace and comfort from talking to someone. The main issues discussed are mostly around loneliness or depression as well as relationship problems, abuse, and specific problems around farming and inheritance.Recent years have not been easy for many in rural and farming communities and the helpline has seen some callers now also expressing concerns about their own financial situation in relation to farming. Many callers have expressed their gratitude that the helpline is in place and the fact that they can speak to someone in complete confidence particularly when they don’t have anyone else they can talk to.

The total number of calls received to the Farm & Rural Stress Helpline in 2010 was 371. A breakdown of the number of calls per month is outlined below in table as follows:

2010 Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec


of calls

42 22 39 35 38 30 31 28 26 24 29 27

An audit of the helpline (published in 2008) which monitored and evaluated the delivery of this service showed that:

  • 55% of callers to the helpline were male
  • 62% of callers were single
  • 50% of callers were living alone
  • 41% of callers cited depression and suicidal thoughts as their major health problems
  • 40% of callers revealed they had previously received treatment for depression
  • 43% of callers cited loneliness or no support as reasons for calling the helpline
  • 50% of callers sought further support from the helpline.

Deirdre Scully, Local Health Manager with the HSE South said “Since the establishment of the helpline, raising its awareness in the rural communities of Cork & Kerry has been a priority for us. The change of type of call to the helpline reflects the current climate we are presently in; however, we are continuing to meet the needs of those who require this service which show how effective the helpline is. Highlighting the helpline today is important as it draws attention to the service and informs people about the kind of confidential, help, advice and support that is available for people. Very often, a lack of awareness of what services are available can be a real barrier to someone seeking help.”

The associated leaflet produced to promote the helpline was delivered to every rural household in Cork and Kerry (approximately 140,000) when it was launched in 2004 and again in 2009 as callers to the helpline have expressed their gratitude for receiving the leaflet directly to their home enabling them to access the helpline number easily and speak to someone in complete confidence particularly when they don’t have anyone else they can talk to.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) South have also developed a range of services in the area of suicide prevention as well as support in the aftermath of a suicide. People, who feel they are in crisis for whatever reason, need to know they are not alone. Help, advice and support is available through confidential helplines. Help is at hand for people who are feeling suicidal and for families or friends who are concerned about someone. A range of services are provided by the HSE South to help address the issue of suicide in the Cork and Kerry region include;   

  • Suicide Prevention Helpline - 1800 742 745: a freephone help-line open daily from 6.00pm – 10.00pm for people who are feeling suicidal or equally for a family member or friend who is concerned about someone. People can ring the number and talk, in complete confidence, to someone who will listen and offer help and support.
  • Suicide Bereavement Support Service: Health professionals have been specially trained to work with families and people in a community who have been affected by suicide. This is a free service and is tailored to suit individual situations. The support team will meet with family members, friends, neighbours, co-workers or who ever has been affected by the tragedy of a suicide. This meeting could take place in the family home, in the person’s place of work, a local community hall or where ever those in need of practical help and support feel is appropriate.  The number to access this support team is: 087 7986944.
Last updated on: 01 / 02 / 2011