7 February 2023: This week, Red Tractor has been supporting the Farm Safety Foundation’s Mind Your Head campaign, which is now in its sixth year and brings together 300 partners from across the industry to promote the importance of mental health in farming and rural communities. Research by the Farm Safety Foundation has shown that levels of mental health in farming are deteriorating, with 94% of farmers aged 40 and under citing poor mental health as one of the biggest problems facing the industry.
As part of this year’s Mind Your Head week-long campaign, the Foundation has also republished its popular farming mental health guide, The Little Book Of Minding Your Head. Now in its 5th edition and free to download, the book is a valuable resource produced by The Farm Safety Foundation, detailing mental health conditions, signs to look out for, how to cope if you or someone you know is suffering with their mental health. The book also includes how you can access support across the country.
This year the Mind Your Head campaign has focused on 5 core themes:
Focusing on the isolation felt by farmers and those in rural communities, it is important for everyone to take and make time to notice yourself and others, and to ask each other the question: “Are you ok?”
This advice is as old as the hills, but the research shows that taking a walk each day can significantly help your mental wellbeing. The benefits range from managing stress and anxiety, clearing your head and improving your ability to problem solve. A daily walk can also improve sleep and increase happiness and self-esteem.
Being present in the moment and taking notice of what is around you can help to improve your mental health, whether that be awareness of our own thoughts and feelings or taking notice of those in our community. We recognise that some farmers find it hard to talk, but there are organisations and people available to listen.
Learning to take care of your mental health is equally as important as your physical health. NHS Research suggests learning new skills can improve your mental wellbeing, by boosting confidence and self-esteem, helping improve your sense of purpose and to connect with others. We can also learn from other industries. For instance, the construction industry has taken great steps in promoting good mental health by working to provide business owners and employees with the skills to take care of their own mental health, and how to identify those around them who may be struggling.
At a time of economic uncertainty, rising living costs and increasing pressures within the industry, it is more important than ever that we work to support good mental health. You can help do this by supporting The Farm Safety Foundation and local rural mental health charities. More information on the core themes of the campaign and support available can be found on the Yellow Wellies website.
For more information and resources on support available to Red Tractor members and farmers, visit our support hub.