The farming community is being encouraged to look after its mental health as part of the Farm Safety Foundation’s third Mind Your Head campaign (10-14 February).
In 2019 and heading into 2020, Brexit, changing consumer habits and climate change have placed an extraordinary amount of pressure on agricultural workers.
A survey carried out by the foundation found 84% of farmers aged under 40 believe mental health is the biggest hidden problem they face. Other factors, including isolation, weather, long hours, market conditions and business uncertainty, all take their toll.
The same survey also found 85% of young farmers believe there is a link between farm safety and mental health.
Farming organisations, including the NFU and the Country, Land and Business Association (CLA), are urging farmers to stop ignoring mental health issues and reach out for help.
“Farmers are renowned for the care they give to their livestock and the attention they give their crops. Now is the time for us to better take care of ourselves,” said CLA deputy president Mark Tufnell.
“We are backing the third annual Mind Your Head campaign as, in a rapidly changing industry that is facing tremendous uncertainty, we have to remove what remains of the stigma attached to mental health.”
Talk about problems
NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts said: “For many people, the first step is recognising when there is a problem, talking to someone about it and, where needed, getting professional help.
“Thankfully, the farming community has a multitude of strong support networks such as Rabi [Royal Agricultural Benevolent Trust], FCN [Farming Community Network] and the Yana [You Are Not Alone] charity.
“As a community, we can do more to look out for one another and reach out to provide support to our family and friends who might otherwise suffer in silence.”
For more information on the Mind Your Head campaign, visit the Yellow Wellies website.