Farming mental health campaigns recruits household names to promote awareness

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Rural charity the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) has found that mental health among agricultural workers has become a nationwide concern, with 95% of 450 surveyed farmers agreeing it is the biggest hidden problem in the industry today.

The study also found a connection between average working hours and mental health, with shorter days linking to better mental wellbeing.

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The charity’s Mind Your Head campaign hopes to continue raising awareness to these challenges by breaking down the stigma attached to mental health issues in the farming sector.

It comes as 36 suicides were registered in England and Wales by those in the industry in 2021, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said that the campaign initially began in 2018 during increased anxiety in the industry around Brexit and policies.

“Agriculture is a proud and hardworking industry and vital to the UK economy. Far from being downtrodden, the UK’s farmers are resilient and resourceful and committed to finding ways to tackle any challenge they face,” she said.

“Over the years we’ve been encouraged by the growing numbers of farm businesses and organisations wanting to learn more about how to help their workers and suppliers, as well as incredible individuals taking steps to improve their mental wellbeing.

“In this year’s campaign, we will be highlighting them and hopefully inspiring many more to do the same.”

To help promote the issue, the charity worked with film director Rebecca Rose and Swift Rocket Films to premiere a British short film exploring the effects of suicide on a farming family starring Mark Frost and ‘Gavin and Stacey’ actress Alison Steadman.

Alison said: “I hope this film can encourage more communication within the sector so people don’t have to suffer in silence and can receive support before it’s too late”.

Other well-known figures joining the campaign include actor Kelvin Fletcher, known for his role in Emmerdale and Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, who launched a podcast last year to raise awareness of mental health after losing a farming friend to suicide.

More information on the campaign can be found here.

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