Photo:Farm Safety Foundation – DNA – Digital News Agency.

Poor mental health continues to be the biggest health topic in the UK – one in four people have been diagnosed with a mental illness and in farming, mental health issues continue to be of great concern.

•81% of farmers under 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today.

•HSE has identified stress, depression and anxiety as some the main causes of work-related ill health. The overall illness rate for agricultural workers is 46% higher than the industry average, and stress, depression and anxiety are significant causes of ill health alongside musculoskeletal disorders and lung disease.

•The Farm Safety Foundation’s Mind Your Head campaign takes place from 11-15 February to raise awareness of the issue amongst the farming community.

Living well is the key to farming well and leading farm safety charity, the Farm Safety Foundation, is highlighting the importance of farmers looking after their mental health in the second Mind Your Head week which takes place from 11-15 February 2019.

There are a number of mental health risk factors associated with agriculture. Farmers work long hours, often in isolation. They can be under significant financial pressure, often required to take on significant debt just to purchase the land and equipment required to operate. And in most cases, a farmer’s place of business is also his or her home, meaning there is no easy way to get away from the workload.

In addition, farmers are constantly vulnerable to unusual events and circumstances that can impact their bottom line and stress levels – from weather and natural disasters to major uncertainties like Brexit.

This week, leading farming charity Farm Safety Foundation is asking the farming community to Mind Your Head with a campaign to raise awareness and tackle the stigma of this growing issue in farming. Recent research by the charity reveals that 81% of farmers under 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today and 92% believe that promoting good mental health is crucial if lives are to be saved and farmers kept safe.

Throughout the week, the Farm Safety Foundation will be reminding farmers and farming families that Valentine’s week; when we are supposed to celebrate love and togetherness, can sometimes highlight how different, alone, or low we feel and if that is the case, help is available. The Foundation will bring together key people, organisations and other charities to raise awareness of this mounting issue in the industry and build a community of support and resources for those affected.

Stephanie Berkeley, who leads the Farm Safety Foundation said: “Last year’s campaign was welcomed by the farming community but one thing has become evident, farmer health and wellbeing cannot, and should not, be ignored – by any of us. Simply pretending the issue does not exist or has no impact on the industry is not acceptable.

“This year we are mounting the week long campaign in the run up to one of the biggest and possibly most stressful events facing the industry – Brexit.

“In previous times of stress such as the BSE crisis in 1986 and the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001, there was a sharp increase in the number of farmer suicides as farm incomes declined. Learning from past experiences we need to be prepared to support our farmers through this time and this is what we are great at, as an industry.

“This Mind Your Head, we will continue to raise awareness of what the next generation consider the ‘biggest hidden problem’ in the industry and highlight the help available. This year we will also put a special focus on building personal resilience for farmers at this critical time. As an industry, we have a collective responsibility to do something about the issue of poor mental health and the risk of suicide and we believe that every one of us has a role to play.”

DNA – Digital News Agency.