Mind Your Head campaign highlights actions to break down mental health barriers
15th Feb 2021 / By Alistair Driver
The Farm Safety Foundation (also known as Yellow Wellies) has launched its fourth annual Mind Your Head campaign to illustrate actions being taken to break down mental health barriers in farming.
Running until February 19 and during a time when the pig sector is under particular strain, the launch coincided with some sobering statistics published by the Office of National Statistics and the National Records of Scotland showing:
- 133 suicides were registered in England, Wales and Scotland in 2019 for those working in farming and agricultural related trades. These include farmers, managers, and proprietors of ag related services and those working in agricultural related trades and elementary ag occupations.
- 88% of farmers under the age of 40 rank poor mental health as biggest hidden problem facing farmers today, according to a study by the foundation. This increased from 82% in 2018.
- 89% of young farmers believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it (increased from 80% in 2018).
The farming industry faces many stress factors, which are placing increased pressure on workers and putting them at greater risk of mental ill health and during the last year - and the coronavirus pandemic will have only increased the mental health strain, the foundation said.
The Mind Your Head campaign will focus on prevention and early identification of risk factors associated with those living and working in the UK farming industry and also aims to highlight the wealth of support available. During the week long campaign, the Farm Safety Foundation will be sharing the stories of some incredible people who have lost loved ones to suicide, made difficult career and life choices, and hear stories of hope, resilience, and the light at the end of that dark tunnel.
- For more information on the campaign or to learn more about how the Farm Safety Foundation and partners are tackling the issue of poor mental health in the industry please visit www.yellowwellies.org
- Or follow them on social media – @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, where you can view a short new film.
Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “Humans are social animals. We not only enjoy each other’s company, but we also thrive on it.
"Digital solutions have tremendous value, however we must not underestimate the value of talking through our problems. It sounds non-technical, and therefore old-fashioned, but getting farmers to open up is the very first step to building a holistic approach to mental health in the industry.
“It is so important to encourage a habit within agriculture that explicitly recognises how the job can, and does, impact on the wellbeing of everyone living and working in it and how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job. Given the year we have just experienced, making sure we are all looking after our physical and mental wellbeing has never been more relevant.
“This is a huge concern and one that we need to keep talking about. In the last 12 months, calls to farming charities have increased so we need to be concerned about the numbers of people in our industry feeling high levels of distress and to keep pushing to ensure people know that help is available and encourage them to ask for it.
"This is your industry, your future, and your responsibility to it’s time to speak up, speak out and mind your head.”