The Mind Your Head Campaign will begin next week running from 14 to 18 February. This occasion will be the fifth year that the Farm Safety Foundation have run the campaign which aims to remind those working in the land-based sector to be mindful of their own mental health, as well as that of family, friends and colleagues.
We have made a huge amount of progress in the last five years; there is certainly a greater willingness within the industry to talk about mental health, however there is still more work to be done. A recent survey by the Farm Safety Foundation found that 92 per cent of under 40s and 84 per cent of over 40s believed that struggles with mental health are the greatest hidden challenge that farmers face.
The farming sector now faces huge uncertainty as agricultural policy sees the biggest change to farm support payments for 50 years. When these dramatic changes are combined with rising input costs and price volatility, we now more than ever, have to be mindful of the effect that such stresses can have on our own mental health but also the mental health of those we care about the most.
That isn’t to say that working in agriculture is inevitably bad for your mental health. Working in a job where you feel you make a difference to the animals you care for, the environment you nurture or the wider public you feed and entertain, can give you a sense of enormous wellbeing which is vital to good mental health. Working alongside people who are as passionate about farming as you are is another huge positive of a career in farming. The positive effects that the easy access to green space have on mental health have been well documented and those employed in farming have relatively easy access to green space because that is their factory and their office on a daily basis.
That being said, it’s not always that simple!
Therefore, during this year’s Mind Your Head week, let’s pledge to check in on a colleague or a mate regularly. Asking an open question like ‘how are you’ can really go a long way.
However, awareness weeks are great for raising awareness of issues, but we need to ensure that the conversation doesn’t stop. By doing so, we can strive for even greater improvement in rural mental health.
Join in on the conversation via Twitter using @yellowwelliesUK and the hashtag #MindYourHead