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Farmers mental health highlighted

A UK-based charity is highlighting the mental health challenges that farmers can face on a day-to-day basis.

The Farm Safety Foundation is launching its third annual Mind Your Health campaign this week to raise awareness of the issues facing farmers today and the link between farm safety and mental health.

The charity conducted a survey which found 84% of farmers under the age of 40 believe that mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry today, up from 81% in 2018.

It is vital to build a culture within agriculture that explicitly recognises how the job can impact on the well-being of farmers and their families and conversely how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job.” - Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation

Link between mental health and safety

Meanwhile, 85% 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 place 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.

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

Stresses on the poultry industry

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% of UK farmers would have made a loss between 2014 and 2017 without direct payments from the EU.

Mental health awareness

Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “It is encouraging to see more discussions about mental health, more awareness of the various mental health conditions and more emphasis on the support available to the farming community, however, more still needs to be done.

“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 well-being of farmers and their families and conversely how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job.

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