Farming News - "Mind Your Head" mental health campaign aims to raise awareness of depression in the farming community

"Mind Your Head" mental health campaign aims to raise awareness of depression in the farming community

14 Feb 2018

A new mental health campaign has been launched this week by the Farm Safety Foundation to raise awareness of depression in the farming community. 

Whilst the UK’s farmers are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops and machinery, The Farm Safety Foundation says unfortunately farmers do not have such a good track record when it comes to taking care of themselves and their own wellbeing.

Levels of depression are thought to be increasing and suicide rates in farmers are among the highest in any occupational group. The situation is compounded by the fact that farming tends to be an innately conservative culture and there is often stigma and taboo attached to mental health. This can hinder people’s willingness to speak about the issue and to seek help.

Many in the industry have highlighted the impact of mental health and wellbeing on farm safety. The Mind Your Head campaign aims to raise awareness and inform farmers and farming communities about the role they play in identifying and supporting those with mental health issues.

Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation said: “We hope to bring to the fore the challenges facing our famers in an industry with a poor track record of mental health and the wonderful sources of help, advice and guidance available to them.”

Stress is something that many farmers face at some point and is an important contributor to mental health problems. It can come from many sources such as financial pressures resulting from market fluctuations, livestock disease or poor harvests.

This brand new campaign aims to encourage farmers and farming families not to neglect themselves, but to put themselves first, ‘open up’ and get some help and advice on whatever concerns they have.

Former president of the Wales Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, Nigel Owens, 46, from Carmarthenshire, is all too aware of how easily things can get out of hand when you don’t open up and you allow stress to take over your life.

According to Nigel; “The mind is a powerful tool which can be positive and helpful, as well as negative and destructive. From experience, if we don’t open up and talk about how we’re feeling and what we are struggling with, we can end up becoming anxious and depressed. I’m delighted to support the ‘Mind Your Head’ Campaign because the farming community need to know they are not alone and that there should be no taboo about asking for help.”

The pressures of farming aren’t going to disappear, so as a farmer you need resilience, smart strategies and specific skills to live well and farm well. The first step to improving your mental wellbeing can be as simple as talking to someone. Useful contact numbers are listed below.

Key organisations in the industry will work together for this campaign in the hope that farmers and their families know where, when and how to seek help when they need it. Organisations such as the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Rural Support and the Farming Community Network (FCN), a voluntary organisation providing pastoral and practical support for farmers and farming families, who are going through difficult times.

FCN Practical Support                              03000 111 999 (7am – 11pm daily)

R.A.B.I Welfare & Financial Help           01865 724931 (weekdays 9am – 5pm)

R.S.A.B.I Welfare & Financial Help        0300 111 4166 (7am – 11pm daily)

Rural Support Northern Ireland            0845 6067607 (weekdays 9am-9pm)

SAYFC Scotland                                        0131 333 2445

Scottish Association of Mental Health  0141 530 1000 (weekdays 9am – 5pm)

National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs

YANA – You Are Not Alone                     0300 323 0400 (Norfolk/Suffolk)

Mind Advice and Support                       0300 1233393 (weekdays 9am – 6pm)

Samaritans`                                              116 123

Throughout the week the Farm Safety Foundation will be sharing stories, blogs and research into the issue on their website and will also be using @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter to spread the message. Please show your support for this very important campaign by following them and retweeting our content on both Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MindYourHead