World Mental Health Day: Farmers encouraged to seek help

The Farmers' Union of Wales says many people with a mental illness still do not receive appropriate treatment
The Farmers' Union of Wales says many people with a mental illness still do not receive appropriate treatment

Farming groups are urging the government to ensure that the UK's mental health services remain high on the agenda ahead of World Mental Health Day.

The 2021 campaign, taking place on Sunday 10 October, is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’, with a focus mental health inequality locally and globally.

First held in 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health's dedicated day raises awareness of mental health issues, and to fighting the still-associated stigma.

But such issues in the countryside and farming industry can often become unnoticed by health professionals.

The leading cause of death for people aged between 20 and 34 is suicide - and approximately, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than one agricultural worker a week in the UK takes their own life.

And this year, farmers and those who work in rural areas may be suffering more than usual due to feelings of isolation and associated issues as a result of the pandemic.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said many people in the industry with a mental illness still do not receive appropriate treatment.

President Glyn Roberts said: “I would say we are lucky in Wales and in our rural communities that we have the support of many mental health charities such as the DPJ Foundation, that our farmers and rural communities can call on for help.

"However, many people with a mental illness still do not receive the treatment that they are entitled to and deserve and together with their families and carers continue to experience stigma and discrimination.”

The WFMH has highlighted that access to mental health services remains unequal, with between 75% to 95% of people with mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries unable to access mental health services at all, and access in high income countries is not much better.

“Sadly, the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is growing wider and people with mental health problems are not always receiving the care they need,” he added.

"It’s vital that this doesn’t drop off the agenda at government level and I urge UK government to ensure that mental health services are made a priority, so that it doesn’t become a postcode lottery on who receives that care and who doesn’t."

Organisations that offer help and support include rural-based charities such as the Farming Community Network, the DPJ Foundation and Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I.).