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NFU asks farmers to make mental health a priority during #MindYourHead week

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The NFU has joined the #MindYourHead campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues among its members and help farmers recognise the importance of making their mental health and wellbeing a priority.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said that while farming is a fantastic sector full of incredible, innovative, resilient people, like any business sector it comes with its challenges.

He said: “Like many business owners, farmers can struggle with stress, worries and anxiety, and with the isolated nature of farming these feelings can often be amplified.

“Dealing with mental health issues can be incredibly difficult but help is at hand. For many people, the first step is recognising when there is a problem and talking to someone about it and, where needed, getting professional help. Thankfully, the farming community has a multitude of strong support networks such as RABI, FCN and YANA. And as a community we can do more to look out for one another and reach out to provide support to our family and friends who might otherwise suffer in silence.

“I would urge anyone struggling to cope with any issue to open up to someone they trust. We can all do more to listen and make time for each other. There are also plenty of ways we can all try and maintain good health and wellbeing – but this must be something that works for us individually.

“I am determined to play my part in #MindYourHead week. For me, this means taking time away from the workplace and away from the business itself. This year I have pledged to spend one hour every week doing something new or different from my usual routine – something that gives me time to myself to recharge or to spend with family and friends. This may not work for everyone; the key is to take that first important step.”

The Mind Your Head campaign is run by the Farm Safety Foundation, a small independent charity.

Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “It is encouraging to see more discussions about mental health, more awareness of the various mental health conditions and more emphasis on the support available to the farming community, however more still needs to be done.

Whilst farmers are often culturally ill-equipped to discuss mental health issues, one of the most effective methods in combating stigma is talking about it. This is what we have been doing and will continue to push, especially this Mind Your Head week.

It is vital to build a culture within agriculture that explicitly recognises how the job can impact on the wellbeing of farmers and their families and how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job. Let’s be clear, this isn’t someone else’s responsibility, this is on our watch and, in these challenging times, it’s down to each and every one of us to look out for our friends, colleagues, neighbours and ourselves.”

Those seeking more information on how to tackle poor mental health in the industry can visit the Farm Safety Foundation’s website www.yellowwellies.org and social media channels, where they can access stories, advice and services and a film highlighting these issues on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Photo credit – NFU

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