The fourth annual ‘Mind Your Head’ week is being run by the Farm Safety Foundation, otherwise known as Yellow Wellies, to raise awareness of the issues facing farmers today and highlight the wealth of support available across the UK.
A recent study the organisation conducted into 450 farmers under the age of 40 found that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern, and have a direct impact on safety on the farm. 88% of young farmers now rate poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem faced by farmers today, up from 82% in 2018. Meanwhile, 89% of young farmers believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it – an increase of 9% in the past two years.
Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “Humans are social animals. We not only enjoy each other’s company, we thrive on it. Digital solutions have tremendous value but we mustn’t underestimate the value of talking through our problems. It sounds non-technical, and therefore old-fashioned, but getting farmers to open up is the very first step to building a holistic approach to mental health in the industry.
“It is so important to encourage a culture within agriculture that explicitly recognises how the job can, and does, impact on the wellbeing of everyone living and working in it and how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job. Given the year we have just experienced, making sure we are all looking after our physical and mental wellbeing has never been more relevant.
In 2019, there were a total of 133 suicides registered in GB in those working in farming and agricultural related trades according to the Office of National Statistics and National Records of Scotland. These include farmers, managers and proprietors of ag related services and those working in agricultural related trades and elementary ag occupations.
“This is a huge concern and one that we need to keep talking about. In the last 12 months, calls to farming charities have increased so we need to be concerned about the numbers of people in our industry feeling high levels of distress and we need to keep pushing to ensure people know that help is available and encourage them to ask for it. This is your industry, your future and your responsibility to it’s time to speak up, speak out and mind your head.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Farming Help free on 03000 111999 or visit www.farminghelp.co.uk to learn more.
If you are in Scotland please contact RSABI free on 0300 111 4166 or visit www.rsabi.org.uk to learn more.