Mental health: Yorkshire farmers facing hidden epidemic

Nine out of ten young farmers in our region say mental health struggles are the biggest problem facing agricultural workers.

A recent study by the Farm Safety Foundation (also known as Yellow Wellies), found that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern and having a direct impact of safety on farms.

Key findings:

  • 133 suicides were registered in England, Wales and Scotland in 2019 for those working in farming and agricultural related trades according to the Office of National Statistics and National Records Scotland

  • 88% of farmers under the age of 40 rank poor mental health as biggest hidden problem facing farmers today, a recent study reveals.

  • 89% of young farmers believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it.

Breaking down barriers

The farming industry faces many stress factors, which are placing increased pressure on workers and putting them at greater risk of mental ill health.

During the last year, the coronavirus pandemic will have only increased the mental health effects on farmers and could continue long after the virus has gone.

But 89% of young farmers believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it (increased from 80% in 2018).A week long 'Mind Your Head' campaign gets underway today, championed by the farm safety foundation. It aims to encourage farmers to talk about the challenges they're dealing with. 

Stephanie Berkley is the manager of the Farm Safety Foundation. She said: "That first step can be really quite momentous to take.

"That's why we're also encouraging people to look out for each other and look after each other.

"And to have the confidence to have that conversation with somebody if they know they're not really in the right headspace."