This week has seen the launch of Mind Your Head, The Farm Safety Foundation’s brand new campaign focusing on mental wellbeing in the farming industry.
While UK farmers are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops and machinery, it appears they do not have such a good track record when it comes to taking care of themselves and their own wellbeing.
Levels of depression in the industry are thought to be increasing and suicide rates in farmers are among the highest in any occupational group (ONS). The Farm Safety Foundation has found that, in an industry with the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK, stress is often a key factor in many of the accidents, injuries and illnesses taking place on farms. Research by the Foundation has found that stress is something that many farmers face at some point and is an important contributor to mental health problems.
The situation is compounded by the fact that farming tends to be ‘an innately conservative culture’ and some still perceive a stigma attached to mental health. This can hinder people’s willingness to speak about the issue and to seek help for themselves.
This new campaign, which runs from the 12th to 16th February, 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 and professional rugby referee 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.
Speaking ahead of the Mind Your Head launch, Owens said: “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.”
Key organisations will be backing the campaign over the coming week, and you can too by using the hashtag #MindYourHead as well as following the week’s developments at Yellow Wellies on social media.