Mind Your Head 2024 puts spotlight on farmers' mental health

This week, the seventh annual Mind Your Head campaign will raise awareness of the challenges impacting farmers' mental health
This week, the seventh annual Mind Your Head campaign will raise awareness of the challenges impacting farmers' mental health

The annual Mind Your Head campaign has launched today to highlight the significant mental health risks associated with farm work.

Farm Safety Foundation's campaign will last all week, bringing together more than 300 farming organisations to help break the stigma attached to mental health.

Public bodies and charities are also backing the campaign, as they point to a stigma which is still a barrier to those in the agricultural community seeking help.

A study by Farm Safety Foundation released today (12 February) has revealed that poor mental health among farmers and agricultural workers is of growing concern.

In a sample of 450 farmers under the age of 40, almost all (95%) told the charity that poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing the industry today.

And as a recent report by a parliamentary committee found, one issue is that farmers often work long hours, sometimes in isolation.

They can also be under significant financial pressure, often needing to take on considerable debt to purchase the land and equipment they require.

In most cases, a farmer’s place of business is also his or her home, meaning there is no easy way to get away from the workload.

In addition, farmers are constantly vulnerable to events and circumstances that can impact their bottom line, from extreme weather and natural disasters to animal disease outbreaks.

Stephanie Berkeley, manager of Farm Safety Foundation said: “Mind Your Head launched in 2018 when concerns about Brexit, policies, administration and legislation were causing increased anxiety in the industry.

"Fast forward seven years and the campaign has grown and is now recognised by 67% of farmers in the UK."

She added: "Mental health is always a sensitive subject but it’s something that is thankfully growing in importance and profile. The answer to the question 'who cares?' is everyone – and everyone should."

This year’s campaign, which is the seventh to run, will once again cast a spotlight on farmers’ and agricultural workers’ mental health.

It will showcase what the industry is doing to address the issue, what some inspirational farmers are doing to bring awareness and, importantly, what others can do for themselves.

Dr Neil Hudson MP, who is backing the campaign, said: “Having instigated a parliamentary inquiry and report on rural mental health, I am acutely aware of the significant mental health challenges facing our rural communities.

“Farmers and farm workers make huge sacrifices to keep the nation fed and keep our landscape in shape - and yet sometimes they can care far more for their work than themselves.

"We must start these tough conversations about mental health and physical health in order to break down stigmas which unfortunately are still a huge barrier to those in need seeking help.”