More needs to be done to protect against the potential impact of Brexit on farmers’ mental health and wellbeing, a new report has warned.
Director of the Mental Health Foundation for England and Wales, Dr Antonis Kousoulis, who co authored the report alongside Public Health Wales, said national plans sometimes neglected the impact on mental health for professionals and communities ‘who face vulnerabilities’.
He said the research had helped provide evidence on the need to ensure farmers were more aware of the support available, working across organisations to recognise stress and anxiety, and for farmer led, peer-to-peer solutions.
The report also called for activity to reduce the amount of administrative regulations and ensure rural communities were not left behind in terms of accessing and using digital technology to support their health.
Head of research and development at Public Health Wales, Dr Alisha Davies, said the focus on farmers’ health and well-being was often not prioritised.
She said: “Our new report highlights that while Brexit is a concern, there are many other challenges in farming today and it is this accumulation of adversity which puts undue pressure on farmers and their families.
“We need to work with farming communities to better co-ordinate support, integrate health and encourage early access to help when needed.”
It comes as figures from the Farming Community Network showed 42 per cent of calls to its farmer helpline in 2018 concerned farmers’ financial worries, while one-third (29 per cent) were from individuals wanting to discuss their mental health.
Other top concerns included animal disease and welfare (13 per cent), agricultural policy from organisations such as Defra and Natural England, and family disputes (both 9 per cent).