Samaritans of Shrewsbury is supporting this year’s Mind Your Head campaign organised by leading farming charity Farm Safety Foundation to raise awareness and tackle the stigma of the growing issue of mental illness 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 for those affected.
Richard Dunnill from Samaritans of Shrewsbury said: “We are backing Mind Your Head! as it’s important to raise awareness of the issue in the industry. Farming can be a highly stressful occupation and the industry is exposed to a unique set of circumstances and stressors. Farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and stress is often a key factor in many of the accidents, injuries and illnesses taking place on farms.”
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 must 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.”