Whilst UK farmers are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops and machinery, it appears they do not have such a good track record when it comes to taking care of themselves and their own wellbeing.
The industry faces many stress factors, which are placing increasing pressure on workers and putting them at greater risk of mental ill health. These include extended amounts of time working in isolation, a blurring between work and home life, and financial uncertainty.
Last year 32 farm workers lost their lives due to accidents in the workplace however, equally tragic is that, in 2018, there were 83 suicides amongst people working in agricultural and related trades in England and Wales.
Our research revealed that four out of five young farmers (under 40) believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today. In 2018 we launched a campaign – Mind Your Head – to raise awareness of this growing issue in the industry and, since then, one thing has become evident; farmer health and wellbeing can not, and should not, be ignored – by any of us.
It is encouraging to see more discussions about mental health, more awareness of the various mental health conditions and more emphasis on the support available to the farming community, however more still needs to be done.
We need to recognise that the job can, and does, impact on the wellbeing of farmers and their families and poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job.
This isn’t someone else’s responsibility, this is on our watch and, in these challenging times, it’s down to each and every one of us to look out for our friends, colleagues, neighbours and ourselves.