Farming minister raises mental health awareness in tractor ride

Defra farming minister Mark Spencer has driven a tractor around Parliament Square and to the Houses of Parliament to raise awareness for mental health in farming and rural communities.

As part of the Len’s Light campaign, the trip around Westminster marks one segment of the 2,000 mile journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End in memory of Len Eadon, who took his own life in January 2022.

See also: Mental Health Awareness Week: Farmers share wellbeing tips

Determined that no one in rural communities should feel alone, the campaign – started by Len’s parents Lynda and Andy Eadon – continues to break down the stigma surrounding mental health in farming.

“It’s hugely important that we raise awareness of the mental health impacts in farming and rural communities,” said Mr Spencer.

“I’d like to pay tribute to all those charities and individuals, including Lynda and Andy, who are working tirelessly to bring this to light.

“I’m honoured to have played even just a small part in this goal by getting behind the wheel today.

“I will continue to do all I can to ensure farmers can access the support they need, including through our Future Farming Resilience Fund and ongoing work with charities such as Yellow Wellies.”

Mark Spencer, Andy and Lynda Eadon, Minette Batters and MP Jeremy Wright

Mark Spencer, Andy and Lynda Eadon, Minette Batters and MP Jeremy Wright © Defra

The campaign works with the Farming Community Network, Yellow Wellies and young suicide prevention charity Papyrus.

It comes at a time when 94% of farmers under the age of 40 feel that poor mental health is one of the biggest hidden problems facing the industry, according to a recent Farm Safety Foundation survey. 

“With the help of everyone, we will continue to talk about positive mental health in the rural community which hinges around talking, listening and honesty,” said Mrs Eadon.