The Importance of Reaching In

In our efforts to support one another, we often echo the importance of “reaching out” when in need – “reach out for help if you need it,” or, “give me a call if you need anything.” While these offers are usually well-intentioned, statistics on farmers’ mental health indicate that this approach alone isn’t yielding the desired results. That’s why we need to also highlight the significance of “reaching in” – proactively checking in on those around us.

The concept of “reaching in” involves actively engaging with our peers, friends, and neighbours to assess their well-being. By doing so, we not only demonstrate that we care, but we also help create an environment where conversations about mental health are not taboo, but rather encouraged and normalized.

But how can we effectively “reach in” without it feeling forced or intrusive? Here are some gentle yet impactful steps to help guide you through this process:

  1. Observe Cues: Begin by observing subtle cues indicating changes in behaviour or mood. Look for signs of withdrawal, agitation, or noticeable shifts in their usual demeanor. These observations will help guide your approach.
  2. Choose the Right Moment: Find a suitable moment when both you and the person you wish to check in on are relaxed and free from distractions. It could be during a casual conversation over a cup of coffee or while working side by side in the fields.
  3. Express Genuine Concern: Approach the conversation with empathy and sincerity. Try to put yourself in their shoes to try to understand their perspective, while expressing your genuine concern for their well-being and letting them know that you’re there to listen.
  4. Offer Practical Support: Sometimes, offering practical support can make a world of difference. Instead of saying “call me if you need a hand,” making concrete offers can make it easier for someone to accept support. Whether it’s lending a hand with a certain farm chore, providing resources for professional assistance, or simply being a dependable presence, your support can make a huge impact.
  5. Respect Boundaries: It’s essential to respect the other person’s boundaries and comfort level. Not everyone may be ready to open up immediately, and that’s okay. Let them know that you’re available whenever they feel ready to talk.
  6. Follow Up: Checking in once takes courage and is commendable, but consistency is key. Make it a habit to follow up regularly and reaffirm your support. A simple text message or a quick visit can show that you genuinely care and haven’t forgotten about them.

In essence, “reaching in” is more than starting that conversation; it’s about demonstrating that starting these kinds of conversations should be the norm. While it may feel unnatural at first, this small act can help to foster a culture of care and compassion.

So, let’s not wait for someone to reach out in distress. Instead, let’s take the time to reach in with kindness and understanding, ensuring that no one in the farming community feels alone in their struggles.