14 Feb More than one farmer a week in the UK dies by suicide
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).
In an industry with the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK, stress is often a key factor in many of the accidents, injuries and illnesses taking place on farms. Stress is something that many farmers face at some point and is an important contributor to mental health problems. It can come from many sources such as financial pressures resulting from market fluctuations, livestock disease or poor harvests, but concerns about Brexit, policies, administration and legislation can also take their toll.
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.