Farm support charities are encouraging farmers to have open conversations about mental health following a challenging year.
The combination of Brexit uncertainty, Covid-19, and new farming policies have heaped immense pressure on farmers and their mental health and wellbeing.
The threat to British farming of substandard food imports in future trade deals, and a new farm support system that will see the phased reduction of direct support, have caused a perfect storm of problems, say farming unions.
Extreme weather events, rural crime, a lack of adequate labour supply and uncertain market conditions have added to the difficulties.
Loneliness and social isolation, especially in rural areas, has become an increasing problem since the first lockdown in March, according to mental health charities.
Recognising the challenges that rural communities are facing, rural insurer NFU Mutual has teamed up with the charity Samaritans to launch its winter campaign which aims to connect with anyone who is finding life difficult and struggling with their mental health.
An online survey of 501 NFU Mutual customers, carried out from 20-30 November, found that more people were feeling stressed (+7%), anxious (+3%) and lonely (+2%) than in June.
Matthew Lock, head of corporate partnerships at Samaritans, urged anyone struggling to cope this winter to reach out for support.
“As we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic, it’s essential that we all look after ourselves and one another, by continuing to check in on anyone who may be struggling and encourage them to reach out for support, whether it’s from a friend, family member or a helpline like Samaritans.”
Farming charities including the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (Rabi), the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (Rsabi) and the Farming Community Network (FCN) are also providing specialist help to members of farming communities.
Where to find help
The Samaritans Call 116 123 (free) or visit samaritans.org
Farming Community Network (FCN) Helpline 03000 111 999, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit fcn.org.uk
Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (Rabi) Helpline 0808 281 9490, email email@example.com, or visit rabi.org.uk
Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (Rsabi) Helpline 0300 111 4166, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit rsabi.org.uk
The DPJ Foundation (mental health farming charity in Wales) Helpline 0800 587 4262 or text 07860 048799