Farmers must prioritise their mental well-being as they are the farm’s greatest asset, a new social media campaign has highlighted.
Set up by Irish dairy farmers Peter and Paula Hynes, #AgMentalHealthWeek saw farmers across the globe share their experiences and tips to break the stigma about mental health and start a conversation.
It comes as figures showed 96 farmers and ag workers took their own lives in 2018 in England and Wales.
Exercise was one way farmers improved their mental well-being, with NFU vice-president Tom Bradshaw sharing how he played hockey for two hours a week to ‘free up his mind’.
Launched on October 12, a five-nation charity event, Run1000, will see each national team run 1,000 miles throughout January 2021.
Calling for people to sign up, Sheena Horner, from Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway, who came up with the idea, said: “We wanted to demonstrate through #Run1000 that we are all facing [challenges] together and that you may not be able to physically meet, but you can be part of an online community.”
The £20 joining fee will be divided equally between The Farming Community, Embrace Farm, The Do More Agriculture Foundation, RSABI and DPJ Foundation.
Farmers also talked about sharing the load, with Arla placing Farming Community Network (FCN) stickers on its milk tankers to encourage farmers to open-up about their experiences.
A DJP Foundation spokesperson said: “Sometimes we have good mental health, sometimes less so, and sometimes we need help.
“There is no shame in getting help – and that help is available if you reach out.”
Sarah Tomlinson, a farm vet based in Derbyshire, tweeted: “Today [October 12] I spoke to a farmer struggling with things.
“Bovine TB is part of it, the actions of others is another part.
“We cried, got a bit cross (not at each other), laughed, but most importantly, we talked and reassured each other we were doing a good job.”
Jude McCann, FCN chief executive, added: “Nearly half of all calls made to FCN’s support helpline over the past four months have related to mental health, highlighting the lived experiences of many within the farming community.
“By promoting positive discussions around mental health, we can start a dialogue that will hopefully encourage those who are struggling to seek support.”
For more information, visit the Strive to Thrive hub at FGInsight.com/farmersstrivetothrive