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VIDEO: tackling the biggest hidden problem facing Highland farmers today

By Louise Glen

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Stephanie Berkeley, of the Farm Safety Foundation
Stephanie Berkeley, of the Farm Safety Foundation

The Farm Safety Foundation, also known as Yellow Wellies, have launched its fourth annual Mind Your Head week-long campaign starting today to highlight actions being taken to break down mental health barriers in farming.

A recent study by the Foundation, found that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern and having a direct impact of safety on farms.

With 88 per cent of farmers under the age of 40 now ranking poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today.

The figure has increased from 82 per cent in 2018.

In an industry where 20 farm workers lost their lives in fatal farm accidents in 2019/2020, there were 31 suicides registered in Scotland in those working in farming and agricultural related trades, according to the Office of National Statistics and the National Records of Scotland.

These include farmers, managers, and proprietors of agriculture related services and those working in agricultural related trades.

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.

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.

Ms Berkeley added: “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.”

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.

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