Brexit and climate change affecting farmers' mental health, NFU says

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said more mental health support for farmers will be needed
NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said more mental health support for farmers will be needed

Issues such as Brexit and the impact of climate change are increasingly affecting farmers' mental wellbeing, according to the NFU.

Mental health support for rural areas will become 'ever more important' as the farming industry comes up against 'some of its greatest challenges', NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said.

The comments were made during the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution's (RABI) annual general meeting.

The welfare charity offers financial support to farming people in hardship of all ages.

Last year, payments sent to struggling farmers increased by a significant 47 percent following a particularly difficult year for the industry.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Roberts said more resources are needed to help the growing number of farmers with mental health problems.

He emphasised the need for greater NHS resource in rural areas to help those who are struggling.

Mr Roberts said: “The British farming industry is on the brink of momentous change, not only on a national scale with Brexit but in the universal fight against climate change.

“These challenges, alongside the hugely diverse issues that running a farm business entails, can be incredibly stressful and have a negative impact on mental wellbeing.”

He said that mental health is an area that farmers have often been reluctant to talk about.

“Many farmers struggling with their mental health have turned to charities for support and these services will undoubtedly become even more important in the future.”

Mr Roberts added: “But this needs to go beyond charity support. We need to see government providing more medical resource in rural communities to ensure farmers can get the help they need and deserve.

The meeting comes as Mental Health Awareness Week gets underway from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May.

The BBC has recently released a short film which was met with huge applause after it tackled the topic of mental health in the farming industry.