Take Notice – Just Talk Agri

Taking notice can be a way of improving your mental wellbeing wherever you may be, right now.

It means being present in the moment; observing what’s beautiful or unusual in the world. It means being aware of our thoughts and feelings as they arise, without getting lost in them. It also means looking beyond ourselves and taking notice of those around us and what they might be going through…

Twenty-year-old Tom Ware from Nottinghamshire has taken this concept and is using social media to drive a better awareness and approach to mental health in the farming community and tackle the stigma that still surrounds ‘talking’ about how you feel.

In a survey of 900 farmers in the UK, we discovered that older farmers (over 40) are more likely to agree that farmers aren’t good at talking about their feelings. This may be less evident in the next generation but it still exists and this is why Tom created Just Talk Agri – a Facebook group with a growing membership of nearly 4,000 where, those that need it, can feel safe talking and getting support for their mental health.

TOM WARE, Just Talk Agri

Tom explains: “At present we get people who are both well-known farmers or ordinary farmers to share the message, share the load and share their love. They can upload videos or photos to our pages for the wider audience to see. Hopefully someone will be watching and relate to the message and realise “actually yeah, I might need to talk to someone” or they’ll recognise this in others and decide “I’ll give them a call and see how they are”.”

Tom’s journey into agriculture hasn’t been a smooth one and started when he was 15. He was determined to follow in the family footsteps and got his first “farm” job packing eggs at weekends. He worked there for four years before starting agricultural college at age 19. Unfortunately, he left college after a year but has continued to work in the sector and make many new friends and contacts as well as overcoming his fair share of setbacks and hurdles.

He recalls working in Lincolnshire corn carting with several other young farmers: “We all got on well and worked long hours together. After we finished, we stayed in contact and unfortunately in early January last year we were told the news of Leonard Eadon taking his own life. Having worked closely with Len, it affected me very badly. I wanted to do something to make people in agriculture take notice of what is going on so I posted a short video on Facebook that got a good response from farmers nationally. After the first few videos, other farmers across the country started joining in and posting to other social media channels. This is what I wanted to happen – a movement of people spreading the message that it is okay not to be okay, that it’s okay to talk but it can be more important to listen.”

As some who has struggled badly with intrusive thoughts and emotions, Tom knows the importance of looking after his own mental health as well as reaching out to others and using networks like the Young Farmers Clubs to build resilience.

He explains: “I’ve always struggled in myself, I was very shy and never spoke to anyone and never did anything new or different, then I went to my first Young Farmers Club meeting and never looked back.”

Coming to terms with the tragic loss of a close friend to suicide and, more recently, losing his best friend Harvey and another friend Jake in a car accident, as well as his brother and another friend being hospitalised with bad injuries, Tom really struggled to come to terms with what happened and how he could move on.

He says: “I am one of the lucky ones. I had the right people around me to help me through. This is not to say I don’t still have awful moments that make me freeze and I feel I can’t talk to anyone. But I take a moment to breathe and I’ll message a very good friend who’s always happy to listen.”

Although currently working in Australia, Tom doesn’t see this as a barrier to growing the Just Talk Agri movement. In fact, he has found working abroad helpful.

He says: “The most pressing time of day for mental health is the evening when you’re starting to slow down for the day. Luckily, this is when England is waking up so I can talk to friends and family back home, call them or message them.”

This is where social media offers a real benefit – and herein lies the power of Just Talk Agri – it knows no barriers, no timezones. There is always someone online. Someone you can talk to and listen to.

Tom hopes that Just Talk Agri will continue to grow steadily and organically. He wants to make those living and working in the industry more aware so that they can “Take Notice” and be there for others to help them find the support they need. This could mean simply making sure you call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while, or you know is out working by themselves. Reaching out to others as well as taking notice of how you, yourself, are feeling.

“Speaking out is hard. For some it can be the hardest thing they might have to do. But someone is always there to listen and make your life that bit better but you have to reach out and let them know you need help sometimes.”

If you want to learn more about Just Talk Agri please follow them on Facebook  ‘Just Talk Agriculture’ or Instagram @Just.Talk.Agri

 If you or someone you know needs help, please CLICK HERE to access the Little Book of Minding Your Head – The book contains the contact details and hours of opening of many of the UK’s farming charities and rural support groups.

If you, or someone you are with feels overwhelmed by thoughts of not wanting to live or having urges to attempt suicide, get help NOW.  Call a suicide hotline.                                                                                           

Samaritans                            116 123     

NHS Emergency                    999

Papyrus HOPELINEUK         0800 068 4141                                                          


stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9Take Notice – Just Talk Agri

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