FARMRes: Professional management of an agricultural enterprise as a protective factor for mental health

The FARMRes project had a meeting in Finland in November. The meeting was organized in the capital region, which got a layer of snow just in time the day before the meeting. The first day we were guests of Farmers´Social Incurance Institution (MELA). Mela presented, among other things, its Support the farmer -project model and Farmers Workability Scale. During the day, we also reviewed national reports on the mental health of agricultural entrepreneurs. The lists of challenges were very consistent regardless of the country. Factors related to the management of an agricultural enterprise emerged as protective factors for mental health.

So what kind of farm management works as a protective factor for mental health? The topic often remains at the level of a term, which is why the term is opened in this project. Comprehensive farm management consists of three entities – self-management, work management and network management.

Self-management is self-knowledge, competence and training, consideration of one’s own well-being and the ability to change. The factors of self-management can be seen as individual characteristics, but it is very important to note that self-management is also a factor that can be developed on many different levels. Part of the development of self-management is, for example, the development of one’s own thought processes. Identify your own thought processes by detailing your way of facing new things or changes: Is it characteristic of you to perceive challenges or opportunities in new situations? Are your thoughts stimulating and encouraging or negative and conflict-seeking? When thinking about thought processes, it is good to notice that things are rarely black and white they can be both. What are your own thoughts like? And when you think some issue, ask you self is it possible to think about it in a different way.

Work management consists of, among other things, work planning, production management, occupational well-being and occupational safety, correctly measured workload, and financial- and risk management. Recognizing one’s own limits is important in managing work. Think about whether it is necessary for you to take care of all matters related to work management yourself or can you get help for example with production development, financial management or work safety development from someone? Managing the work does not mean that you do everything yourself, but that you make sure that these things are taken care of.

Networks are a factor that facilitates and enables the development of both self-management and work management. Managing networks comprehensively includes maintaining human relationships and knowing who can help. Managing networks requires some resources, but functioning networks pay back many times over. The time spent on maintaining networks can feel like a great relief in moments when you wonder who you can talk to about this matter or how you could go about solving it. Just knowing that there is help and someone to ask about is often a relief.

Comprehensive management consists of all the factors mentioned above: Self-management, work management and network management. When the whole is under control, it is easier to understand what your farm business is like, what you can outsource, who can help, what you are like and what you want.

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