Somerset Young Farmers given mental health first aid training

Young farmers in Somerset have received training to help them identify and support anyone who may be struggling with their mental health.

Members of Somerset Young Farmers Club (YFC) took part in the two-day course, which has been funded by the Somerset Community Foundation.

The training, delivered by New Leaf Workplace Wellbeing, taught the young farmers how to recognise common signs and symptoms of mental ill health and how they can help vulnerable people.

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Somerset YFC is one of the first young farmers clubs in the UK to have trained mental health first aiders among its membership.

The federation has 23 clubs spread across Somerset, with almost 800 members.

Becky Wright is the founder of New Leaf and delivered the training to the young farmers.

The course was developed by Mental Health First Aid England, which works to increase mental health awareness literacy and reduce the stigma associated with mental ill health.

Ms Wright said: “Research shows four out of five young farmers [under 40] believe mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today.

“I am delighted that this group is taking the issues seriously and has a huge willingness to support others within the club. This work is a great extension of the mental health in agriculture Z-card released in May 2020 to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.”

The pocket-sized card sets out some of the symptoms of mental ill health and what to look out for in a family member, colleague or friend.

Somerset YFC said mental health is a priority for the organisation, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.

County chairman Tom Pope said: “I have been overwhelmed by how well the clubs have adapted and embraced the change, and there have been many whacky ideas of things to do over Zoom, from quizzes to treasure hunts.

“I have enjoyed seeing members get involved in the online county competitions and I hope, as the lockdown eases, we will be able to get back to doing some of our favourite competitions soon.”