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.
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 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 — from weather and natural disasters to international trade disputes.
Our research revealed that 94% young farmers (under 40) believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today. In 2018 we launched a new campaign – Mind Your Head – to raise awareness of this growing issue in the industry. As an industry, we have a collective responsibility to do something about the issue of poor mental health and the risk of suicide and every one of us has a role to play.
Increased understanding, and discussions around mental health will, in time, reduce the discrimination experienced by those who have mental health issues. Our Little Book of Minding Your Head offers a pocket guide to understanding mental health and stress management in agriculture and special thanks must be given to Dr Amy Irwin and the team from the University of Aberdeen, NTSAg, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and, of course, our funder NFU Mutual for their support in compiling the contents.
From outlining what mental health actually means, to the ways you can support others through challenging times, this pocket sized publication offers practical content for those working in agriculture and allied industries. If you find the information useful, please share it with friends, family, colleagues, and anyone you know who works or lives in the
rural community so we are all better equipped to support farmers’ mental health in this ever changing world.
If you would prefer a hard copy please email firstname.lastname@example.org