Living well is the key to farming well and, this week at the Farm Safety Foundation, we are going to highlight the importance of farmers looking after their mental health. Stephanie Berkeley, who leads the Farm Safety Foundation outlines the plans for this year’s campaign…
“There are a number of mental health risk factors associated with agriculture. Farmers work long hours, often in isolation. They can be under significant financial pressure, often required to take on significant debt just to purchase the land and equipment required to operate. And in most cases, a farmer’s place of business is also his or her home, meaning there is no easy way to get away from the workload.
In addition, farmers are constantly vulnerable to unusual events and circumstances that can impact their bottom line and stress levels – from weather and natural disasters to major uncertainties like Brexit
This week, we are again working with some amazing organisations and people to ask the farming community to Mind Your Head with this campaign to raise awareness and tackle the stigma of a serious and growing issue in farming. Recent research we carried out revealed that 81% of farmers under 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today and 92% believe that promoting good mental health is crucial if lives are to be saved and farmers kept safe.
81% of farmers under 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today
Throughout the week, we will be reminding farmers and farming families that Valentine’s week; when we are supposed to celebrate love and togetherness, can sometimes highlight how different, alone, or low we feel and, if that is the case, help is available. We will bring together key people, organisations and other charities to raise awareness of this mounting issue in the industry and build a community of support for those affected.
Throughout the week our blogs and social media channels will share stories, advice and key messages and this afternoon we will release our brand new hero film “A Quiet Night Inn” on Twitter and Facebook.
Last year’s campaign was welcomed by the farming community but one thing has become evident, farmer health and wellbeing can not, and should not, be ignored – by any of us. Simply pretending the issue does not exist or has no impact on the industry is not acceptable.
Simply pretending the issue does not exist or has no impact on the industry is not acceptable.
In previous times of stress such as the BSE crisis in 1986 and the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001, there was a sharp increase in the number of farmer suicides as farm incomes declined. Learning from past experiences we need to be prepared to support our farmers through this time and this is what we are great at, as an industry.
This Mind Your Head, we will continue to raise awareness of what the next generation consider the ‘biggest hidden problem’ in the industry and highlight the help available. This year we will also put a special focus on building personal resilience for farmers at this critical time. As an industry, we have a collective responsibility to do something about the issue of poor mental health and the risk of suicide and we believe that every one of us has a role to play.
To access the RURAL SUPPORT DIRECTORY, a comprehensive publication of regional support groups and key national charities complied by The YANA Project in partnership with ourselves CLICK HERE