What can you do for yourself… Have a Ball… literally

Giving is something that can positively affect your mental wellbeing – think about that warm and fuzzy feeling you get from helping other people, that boost of self-esteem and the joy of bringing people together.


One person who knows all about this is 33 year old Caitlin Riddell…


Caitlin, from Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders, found her passion for agriculture early. First, lambing with her grandparents, then working on a dairy farm in her teens to gain experience for vet school but, after her plans changed in her late teens, she found herself studying Agriculture at Harper Adams University – a time, she admits, she loved.

Today, she is still part of the industry, working in PR and Marketing, as well as staying hands on with the farm her husband manages.

When asked about why she feels we should continue conversations around mental health in farming , Caitlin explains: “In 2018 I handed in my notice and made the decision to go back to working on-farm. I had struggled with my mental health for a long time and thought that doing something I truly loved would fix it. It didn’t and I ended up attempting suicide in 2019.

 What it did do, however, was highlight just how big an issue mental health is in farming. The more I opened up about my own experiences, the more other people opened up about theirs. I was truly shocked at how many people I knew that had been, or were, in a similar position and I realised I wanted to be part of the solution”.

She continued: “I think the mental load of farmers has increased hugely over the years. There are so many pressures now, and so much uncertainty, but I do believe we are making progress in how we talk about mental health as an industry. We are a long way off where we need to be but campaigns such as Mind Your Head are encouraging people to be more open and speak up.

 There is still far too much stigma surrounding the topic, especially with the older generation, but we are slowly chipping away at that and hopefully we can create a culture that sees mental health in the same way we see physical health”.

In 2022, Caitlin decided she wanted to give something back and organised a Mind Your Head Ball.

When she had been struggling with her mental health, she had no idea about the help available. As Caitlin didn’t use social media, she wasn’t aware of the growing conversations around mental health so, during her recovery she began looking into it and came across the Farm Safety Foundation’s Mind Your Head campaign and knew instantly that this could be something she could get behind…

She explains: “My goal was to get as many farmers under one roof as I could and get people talking. I wanted to do something fun, that would appeal to a range of ages, whilst giving me the opportunity to highlight the serious aspect at the same time. It also helps that I love organising events!”.


The Mind Your Head Ball took place in October 2022 near Wooler in Northumberland. Within hours of issuing the press release, she was contacted by Rebecca Wilson and Lizzie McLaughlin from the popular Becca & Lizzie podcast who offered their support. Rebecca and Lizzie, being ambassadors for the Farm Safety Foundation were a perfect fit and they agreed to host the evening. Tickets sold out quickly and many local businesses offered their support with goodies, prizes etc.

Caitlin set an ambitious fundraising target of £5,000 and worried it wouldn’t be reached. She needn’t have been concerned as the Ball raised an incredible £11,494.63!

An event of that size always comes with its own risks and elements of self-doubt can creep in but, on this occasion, Caitlin knew what she wanted, she threw herself into the organisation and she delivered a fun, emotional and successful evening.


Reflecting on that success, Caitlin says: “The thing I was most overwhelmed by was the amount of people who came to talk to me about their own experience with mental health. I knew it was a big issue, but I didn’t realise quite how big even in my local area. I always said that if one person left the ball and sought help, then I had achieved something, but it was so much bigger than that. I still can’t quite believe how much of an impact the evening had on so many people”.

Knowing that the money she, and her team of helpers raised, helps to fund a campaign like Mind Your Head is something that is particularly personal for her. She says: “I can’t describe how overwhelming it is to think that, what we did could help save someone’s life. I personally know people who have turned to the Farm Safety Foundation following the ball and I’m so glad that we opened the door for these people to seek help”.

And what advice would she give to someone who may be reading this and struggling right now?

She suggests: “Talk, Please talk. You are never alone and there is help out there. It’s amazing how talking to the right people can help. If you’re worried about someone else, make the first move and talk to them. I know it might be a bit of a cliché but it’s okay not to be okay and asking for help is often the hardest part”.

If you are interested in fundraising for the Farm Safety Foundation and not sure where to start, please email Sophie at Sophie_marsh@nfumutual.co.uk


stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9What can you do for yourself… Have a Ball… literally