A new campaign tackles the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today
A new survey has found that 92% of farmers under the age of 40 suggest poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today.
2020 and 2021 proved incredibly challenging for the UK’s farming industry. There were extreme weather conditions, poor harvests, supply chain shortages and a global pandemic to contend with but, through it all, farming endured as it always does.
Over the past two years, the UK’s farmers have been recognised as key workers. Their hard work puts food on our plates, produced to some of the highest standards in the world, and their careful stewardship knits together the environmental and social fabric of our iconic landscape.
The UK’s farmers are a remarkable breed; adaptable, resilient and incredibly hardworking but, the commitment of our farmers comes at a price.
In an industry that continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK, making sure we are all looking after our physical and mental wellbeing has never been more relevant.
So, from 14th – 18th February 2022, leading farm safety charity, the Farm Safety Foundation (also known as Yellow Wellies) will launch their fifth annual Mind Your Head campaign to illustrate actions being taken to break down mental health barriers in farming.
A recent study by the Foundation revealed that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern and are having a direct impact on safety on farms.
With 92% of farmers under the age of 40 suggesting poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today (an increase from 82% in 2018).
In an industry where 34 farm workers lost their lives in fatal farm incidents in 2020/2021, there were a total of 44 suicides registered in England and Wales by those working in the farming and agricultural industry in 2020 according to the Office of National Statistics.
Whether or not the number of suicides has increased as a result of the pandemic is a matter for experts and should not be speculated on.
According to Professor Louis Appleby, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Manchester and Chair of the national advisory group on suicide prevention at the Department of Health and Social Care: “Figures like these are important in understanding the tragedy of suicide. They are not dry data, they are real lives lost, real families devastated. No figure, whether high or low, is acceptable. We need to beware of alarming claims and predictions without evidence – misleading and potentially harmful to those in the industry who are already struggling.”
Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “As an industry, I think it is time we deal with the issue of poor mental health head on. We need to talk about our feelings and let everyone living and working in farming know that it’s completely ok to have feelings, good and bad, but it’s also important to let them out.
“Life isn’t always as it seems, we don’t post on social media about the days that we wished we didn’t get out of bed or the days we didn’t feel like it. Most people feel the pressure to keep up with everyone’s ‘perfect’ life.
“My father always advised me to never judge anyone unless you walked in their shoes, these are words that I live by, as it is important to know what is really going on behind the smile, or even their grumpy demeanour.
“Many living and working in rural communities are suffering and doing so in silence. As an industry, it’s time to ease the pressure, stop expecting people to be perfect and start talking openly about feelings with people you trust.”
Today is Valentine’s Day – a day when many show their affection by sending cards, flowers or chocolates with messages of love. This Valentine’s Day, the Farm Safety Foundation is reminding farmers that self-love is important too.
Stephanie added: “A day like Valentine’s Day which celebrates love and togetherness can often highlight how different, alone or low we feel so it is important to check in with yourself and others and reach out to those who may be feeling down, lonely or struggling. Whatever it is that you choose to do, just know that your mental health should never be ignored and you are not alone.”
The recent R.A.B.I Big Farming Survey revealed that 36% of the farming community in the UK are ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’ depressed and sadly, the stigma around mental health often prevents those who need help from seeking it.
So, for the next five days, key farming organisations from five countries will join forces to support the Foundation’s Mind Your Head campaign and try to dispel the myths and tackle the stigma around poor mental health in the industry and highlight the wealth of support available to those living and working in farming.
BBC’s Strictly winner, actor Kelvin Fletcher, who last year bought a 120-acre farm in the Peak District is supporting the 2022 Mind Your Head campaign. As a new entrant to the industry, Kelvin appreciates the many challenges facing farmers at present and the importance of looking after your mental wellbeing at work.
He says: “I feel really privileged to have been welcomed so warmly by the farming community, who have supported me so much since I started my farm last year.
“Before joining farming, I had no idea the community was so heavily impacted by bad mental health. Campaigns like Mind Your Head are so important if we’re going to chip away at the stigma that surrounds mental illness in the industry.
“If one person reads about Mind Your Head and decides to reach out or to check in on a loved one, that’s a step in the right direction. Please, be that person and start the conversation. You never know how much it could mean to someone struggling silently.”
For more information on the Mind Your Head campaign or to learn more about how the Farm Safety Foundation is tackling the issue of poor mental health in the agricultural industry visit www.yellowwellies.org
(Lead image: Farm Safety Foundation)
Tempo the key for Duff as Swans prepare to face Huddersfield
New project to bring empty shop units back into use
Mount Pleasant shoplifter jailed after assaulting security guard
Wholesale changes for Ospreys for Benetton clash
‘I can never live a normal life after being stalked’ – Brave women speaks out about domestic violence in new Police campaign
More homes developed in former council buildings in Swansea
Carmarthenshire GB Taekwondo star hopes Manchester Grand Prix can help inspire more people to pick up the sport
Swansea nurses meet King Charles during royal appointment
Llanelli politicians back alternative steel proposals as unions warn Tata’s current plans would mean closure of Trostre plant
Thieves target local cemeteries and disrupt water supplies
Popular Swansea pub set for grand re-opening after £279,000 makeover
New light being shone on popular seafront promenade
Funding boost for Mumbles women’s fashion shop
Work completed on River Tawe pontoon
Aldi Fforestfach celebrates grand opening with help from Paralympian
Specsavers to invest more than £400,000 in new Mumbles store
Castle Square transformation takes new step
Free buses returning to Swansea for the festive period
Plans submitted for sustainable aviation fuel plant in Port Talbot
Will Pepper’s Christmas wish come true after 800 days waiting for a home?
Money2 days ago
Morriston receives banking hub following community request
Carmarthen3 days ago
Council agrees sale of sprawling former asylum in Carmarthen
Bridgend4 days ago
Independent pharmacy chain pick up former Lloyds pharmacy branches
South Wales Police3 days ago
Three arrests after Mount Pleasant home attacked with ‘weapons’
Neath3 days ago
New look for Victoria Gardens children’s play area is completed
Business4 days ago
Swansea-based housing association enters into merger discussions with Rhondda organisation
Business2 days ago
Revamped H Samuel shop shines bright in Swansea’s Quadrant Shopping Centre
Rugby3 days ago
An evening of entertainment with Dan Biggar coming to Swansea