Mind your head: UK farmers talk mental health

More than one farmer a week in the UK dies by suicide. Leading farming charity, ‘Mind your head’, discusses mental health with UK farmers.
calendar icon 19 February 2018
clock icon 3 minute read
  • 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 (including depression).
  • The leading cause of death for people aged between 20 and 34 is suicide - approximately, more than one farmer a week in the UK dies by suicide (ONS).
  • The Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind Farm Safety Week, has launched this week-long initiative to raise awareness of mental health amongst the farming community.
  • International rugby referee Nigel Owens lends his support for the inaugural ‘Mind Your Head’ campaign, which launches 13th February 2018.

Whilst UK farmers are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops and machinery, it appears they do not have such a good track record when it comes to taking care of themselves and their own wellbeing.

Levels of depression in the industry are thought to be increasing and suicide rates in farmers are among the highest in any occupational group (ONS). Risk of suicide was also higher amongst those working in specific agricultural roles such as harvesting crops and rearing animals (almost twice the national average) (ONS).

The situation is compounded by the fact that farming tends to be an innately conservative culture and some still perceive a stigma attached to mental health. This can hinder people’s willingness to speak about the issue and to seek help for themselves.

The Farm Safety Foundation’s inaugural ‘Mind Your Head’ Campaign aims to encourage farmers and farming families not to neglect themselves, but to put themselves first, ‘open up’ and get some help and advice on whatever concerns they have.

Click here to watch the campaign video

Click here to read the full article on The Pig Site

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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