‘Mind Your Head’ farmers’ mental health campaign launches this week

From February 10-14, the Farm Safety Foundation launches their third annual Mind Your Head campaign, to raise awareness of the issues facing farmers today and the link between farm safety and mental health.

A study by the Farm Safety Foundation, or Yellow Wellies as they are also known, found that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern, and have a direct impact on safety on the farm.

Mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry today, believe 84 per cent of farmers under the age of 40. This is up from 81 per cent in 2018. Meanwhile, 85 per cent of young farmers believe there is a definite link between mental health and the overall safety of farms.

The farming industry faces many stress factors, which are placing increasing pressure on workers and putting them at greater risk of mental ill health.

These include extended amounts of time working in isolation, a blurring between work and home life, and financial uncertainty.

Brexit, changing consumer habits, and the climate crisis present further threats to the industry.

The total income in the UK from farming decreased by a massive £971 million between 2017 and 2018, and 42 per cent of UK farmers would have made a loss between 2014 and 2017 without direct payments from the EU.

In 2018, there were 83 suicides amongst people working in agricultural and related trades in England and Wales.

This year’s Mind Your Head campaign will focus on the physical and mental wellbeing of an industry under pressure, and aim to educate those living and working in the UK’s agricultural communities about the various mental health threats facing them.

This year’s campaign aims to bring public attention to issues such as ‘smiling depression’, PTSD, loneliness, rural isolation and mental health in young farmers.

Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “Whilst farmers are often culturally ill-equipped to discuss mental health issues, one of the most effective methods in combating stigma is talking about it. This is what we have been doing and will continue to push, especially this Mind Your Head week.

“It is vital to build a culture within agriculture that explicitly recognises how the job can impact on the wellbeing of farmers and their families and how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job.

“Let’s be clear, this isn’t someone else’s responsibility, this is on our watch and, in these challenging times, it’s down to each and every one of us to look out for our friends, colleagues, neighbours and ourselves.”

Those seeking more information on how to tackle poor mental health in the industry can visit the Farm Safety Foundation’s website www.yellowwellies.org and social media channels, where they can access stories, advice and services and a film ‘The Last Word’ highlighting these issues.