A STUDY by the Farm Safety Foundation has found that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern, and have a direct impact on safety on the farm.

The research suggests 84 per cent of farmers under the age of 40 believe that mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry today, up from 81 per cent in 2018. Meanwhile, 85 per cent of young farmers believe there is a definite link between mental health and the overall safety of farms.

The farming industry faces many stress factors, which are placing increasing pressure on workers and putting them at greater risk of mental ill health. These include extended amounts of time working in isolation, a blurring between work and home life, and financial uncertainty. Brexit, changing consumer habits, and the climate crisis present further threats to the industry.

The total income in the UK from farming decreased by a massive £971m between 2017 and 2018, and 42 per cent of UK farmers would have made a loss between 2014 and 2017 without direct payments from the EU.

This year’s Mind Your Head campaign, aimed at promoted mental wellbeing in the workplace, will focus on the physical and mental wellbeing of an industry under pressure, and aim to educate those living and working in the UK’s agricultural communities about the various mental health threats facing them.

This year’s campaign aims to bring public attention to issues such as ‘smiling depression’, PTSD, loneliness, rural isolation and mental health in young farmers.

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.

“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 conversely 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.”