Leading farming charity advises the farming industry to start looking after themselves mentally, as well as physically.
Poor mental health, and looking after ourselves, is the topic of the moment in the UK. Yet as the conversation on mental health becomes more normal, in the farming industry, it’s a different story. Leading farming charity, Farm Safety Foundation, revealed that in the UK, more than one farmer a week dies by suicide.
Ed Ford, Chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers said, “One of the biggest issues we have in farming, is talking about mental health.”
He explains, “farmers are incredibly proud people and will not ask for help.”
In order to combat the issue and encourage farmers to reach out and seek help, The Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind Farm Safety Week has launched the ‘Mind Your Head’ campaign. The week-long initiative (which launched on Tuesday 13th February) was built to raise awareness of mental health amongst the farming community.
The charity is encouraging farmers and their families to take care of themselves, to put themselves first, ‘open up’ and get some help and advice on whatever concerns they have.
“Isolation within the farming industry is a huge factor when is comes to mental health. It can be a very secluded job. Friends aren’t often about, there’s not a lot of people about.”
Levels of depression in the industry are thought to be increasing, while the Office of National Statistics (ONS) report suicide rates in farmers are among the highest in any occupational group.
The farming industry has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and it is believed that stress is a key factor in many of these accidents and illnesses. Stress is common among farmers and is a cruel, but vital contributor to mental health problems.
“If you’re an animal farmer, you can go nine to 10 months without any income. The animals get fed and the farmer doesn’t sometimes, but that’s what it does come down to” says Ford.
The Farm Safety Foundation is bringing together key organisations in the industry to work together in support of the Mind Your Head campaign, such as the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Rural Support and the Farming Community Network (FCN).
Charles W. Smith, Chief Executive of the FCN explains, “it is very easy to underestimate just how important the mind is when it comes to farming. Along with the body, it is, without doubt, the best bit of kit a farmer can have.”
“The Farm Safety Foundation does amazing work in providing advice and resources about farm safety and encouraging farmers to take all relevant safety precautions before carrying out their work” says Smith.
"However, if your mind and body are not well-maintained, as well as your machinery, it is very easy to become less conscious of the dangers around you.”
For more information on the Mind Your Head campaign, visit yellowwellies.org or follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #MindyourHead.