Welcome to the 6th annual Mind Your Head week…

The past few years have undoubtedly proved challenging for the UK’s farming industry. Continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, a global pandemic, the war in Ukraine and now, issues with the egg and poultry sector have been impacting the mental health of those living and working in farming.


STEPHANIE BERKELEY, Manager, Farm Safety Foundation

Like many, the farming community is also struggling with spiralling costs. The cost of fertiliser has trebled in price, red diesel – the diesel farmers use, has doubled in price and, with the current climate, cost of living, loss of BPS [basic payment scheme] and more environmental pressures, the impact on farmers, their business and their mental health is giving charities like the Farm Safety Foundation real cause for concern.

In our most recent research, we surveyed 450 UK farmers under the age of 40. 94% of them agreed that poor mental health is one of the biggest hidden problems facing the industry today – a figure that has shot up from 84% three years ago.

The same survey revealed that, using the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scales (WEMWBS) the levels of mental health in the industry are deteriorating and have fallen year-on-year for the past three years.  When the same survey was carried out on 450 farmers over the age of 40, the results revealed that WEMWBS levels of mental wellbeing in older farmers were even lower than their younger counterparts….

Today we launch our sixth annual Mind Your Head campaign. A campaign we started in 2018 to draw attention to serious concerns and uncertainty facing the industry in the wake of Brexit. This feels like a lifetime ago as nobody could have foreseen the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain shortages, issues with the pork sector and now the egg and poultry sector and how they would impact the mental health of those living and working in farming.

In an industry that continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK, making sure farmers are looking after their physical and mental wellbeing has never been more important. 22 farm workers lost their lives in fatal farm incidents in 2021/2022 (HSE) however there were 36 suicides registered in England and Wales by those working in the farming and agricultural industry in 2021 according to the Office of National Statistics.

With 90% of young farmers agreeing that farm safety and mental health are directly linked, our research also highlighted some worrying trends in those registering lower mental wellbeing scores. In the study, farmers with lower WEMWBS scores were less likely to take steps to stay safe on the farm (e.g. wear Personal Protective Equipment PPE, carry out risk assessments). They were also more likely to admit to taking risks, less likely to think about the consequences and less likely to take personal responsibility for their safety.

This is why a charity like the Farm Safety Foundation exists and why it matters.

There are thousands of farmers struggling with long term ill health in the industry and thousands more with mental health conditions. These people are working every day regardless to ensure we have food on our plates. This could be one of the reasons why farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK. Nine out of ten young farmers believe the two are linked.

But how many of these deaths are the result of the farm worker not being in the right headspace when doing the job? We will never know.

On a more positive note, farmers recognise that there are barriers to ‘opening up’ about their mental health but, having ‘no one to talk to’ was not seen as a significant barrier. This is because we have fantastic farming charities and rural support groups operating in the UK.

However, calls to rural support helplines have increased or become more complex over the past three years. In Wales, Tir Dewi have noted 5-8 times the volume of calls to their helpline and The DPJ Foundation have made 47% more counselling referrals. In Northern Ireland, Rural Support have reported an almost 40% increase in calls to the support line which includes accessing all their programmes and services and, while call volumes to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) and RSABI in Scotland have been consistent, the referrals and interactions have become more complex and require more of a multi-agency approach.

Urgent action is needed to support the ongoing mental health of our farmers. We need to take the pressure off these rural support groups and charities who are increasingly relied upon to provide support for those in crisis situations.

All week, we will be sharing stories, videos and articles here and through our social media channels @yellowwelliesUK so please, support this very important cause and like and share our content.

Thank you

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_zl4u2oa9Welcome to the 6th annual Mind Your Head week…

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