World Mental Health Day: Farmers encouraged to talk more about well-being

In the farming industry, mental health issues continue to be of great concern
In the farming industry, mental health issues continue to be of great concern

Farmers and those in the wider industry are being encouraged to talk more about their feelings and well-being today for World Mental Health Day.

The Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.

It provides an opportunity for farmers to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for the industry.

Poor mental health is the biggest health topic in the UK at present - one in four people have been diagnosed with a mental illness and in farming, mental health issues continue to be of great concern.

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 dies by suicide.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) is urging those within the industry not to hide problems from themselves, their families and friends and to talk about their personal feelings.

The FUW made a commitment at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in 2017 to continue raising awareness of mental health problems in rural communities, and is therefore renewing the call for those who might be suffering from mental health problems to seek help.

FUW President, Glyn Roberts said: “This year's theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is young people and mental health in a changing world.

“Our young people are faced with an uncertain future and their world is changing rapidly, which will no doubt cause anxiety and stress to many.

“Their farming businesses are under threat, our export markets post March 2019 are unclear and any support for the industry has still not been finalised.

He added: “Add to that the growing problem of bovine TB and you have a recipe for the perfect storm.

“But we must break the stigma attached to mental health, so if you’re feeling vulnerable, stressed, or anxious, please open-up - don’t bottle it up and speak to someone. That doesn’t just mean today, but always. Farmers and farming families need to continue talking openly about what they are experiencing.”

Rural-based charities such as the Farming Community Network and Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution help farmers who are suffering from mental health issues.