New farmer podcast breaks mental health stigma

The podcast features interviews with special guests and debates on current affairs within farming
The podcast features interviews with special guests and debates on current affairs within farming

A podcast looking at farmers' mental health has explored the stigma of the subject and the potential reasons why the farming community find it hard to broach the topic.

The new podcast 'Boots and Heels' wants to explore why the difficulties faced by the agricultural industry are unique and prevalent, and how anyone affected can find support.

Already leading an isolated life, with long and often unsociable hours, people in agriculture have felt the hole left by the temporary restrictions on auctions markets, visiting farms and pubs.

These opportunities for contact are vital to combat the loneliness in a highly demanding but highly rewarding industry.

Alongside the loneliness, agriculture can be exposed to significant risks such as the weather and trade fluctuations.

Creators of the new podcast, Rebecca Wilson and Lizzie McLaughlin, touched on the stigma surrounding farmers' mental health in their second episode, recently released.

The pair welcomed two guest speakers to give a frank insight into their experiences and help them discuss the subject.

Their first guest, Hannah Rees, a student at Harper Adams University, is carrying out research into mental health in agriculture and the effectiveness of services currently in place.

Through her own experience with the provision of mental health support and her familiarity with the DPJ Foundation as a result of being part of LLysyfran Young Farmers Club in Pembrokeshire, she gives an honest dialogue of where she was able to find support.

As a result of some of the findings of her research, they discussed where the systems in place already for mental health support in agriculture could be adapted.

Lastly, she offered advice on anyone wanting to get involved with the industry, stating: "You don’t have to be a farmer to be a farmer."

The latter half of the episode featured James Hosking, an ambassador for rural mental health following his own experience of family bereavement and leaving the dairy industry.

Having grown up in farming, keeping busy on the farm in many ways provided him with a coping mechanism.

But James also acknowledged that this meant he did not necessarily address the internal struggles that he was having straightway.

After both interviews, podcast co-creator Rebecca reiterated the importance of reaching out for support.

"If we could take anything from this episode, we would urge you to please, please talk to each other and check up on those you know who a part of the agricultural community," she said.

The latest episode of Boots and Heels is available on most platforms including Spotify and Apple.