LOOK after your mental health - that’s the message to farmers this week as the industry marks Mind Your Head week.

The Farm Safety Foundation is backing the annual awareness campaign - and points out that there are a number of mental health risk factors associated with farming.

Farmers work long hours, often in isolation. They can be under significant financial pressure, often required to take on significant debt just to purchase the land and equipment required to operate. And in most cases, a farmer’s place of business is also his or her home, meaning there is no easy way to get away from the workload.

In addition, farmers are constantly vulnerable to unusual events and circumstances that can impact their bottom line and stress levels - from weather and natural disasters to major uncertainties like Brexit

The Farm Safety Foundation is asking the farming community to raise awareness and tackle the stigma of this growing issue in farming. Recent research by the charity reveals that 81 per cent of farmers under 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today and 92 per cent believe that promoting good mental health is crucial if lives are to be saved and farmers kept safe.

The Foundation’s website www.yellowwellies.org and social media channels will share stories, advice and key messages and a new hero film “A Quiet Night Inn” will be released today on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Stephanie Berkeley, who leads the Farm Safety Foundation said: “Last year’s campaign was welcomed by the farming community but one thing has become evident, farmer health and wellbeing can not, and should not, be ignored - by any of us. Simply pretending the issue does not exist or has no impact on the industry is not acceptable.

“This year we are mounting the week long campaign in the run up to one of the biggest and possibly most stressful events facing the industry – Brexit.

“In previous times of stress such as the BSE crisis in 1986 and the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001, there was a sharp increase in the number of farmer suicides as farm incomes declined. Learning from past experiences we need to be prepared to support our farmers through this time and this is what we are great at, as an industry.”

“This Mind Your Head, we will continue to raise awareness of what the next generation consider the ‘biggest hidden problem’ in the industry and highlight the help available. This year we will also put a special focus on building personal resilience for farmers at this critical time. As an industry, we have a collective responsibility to do something about the issue of poor mental health and the risk of suicide and we believe that every one of us has a role to play.”

For more information on ‘Mind Your Head’ or any of the organisations mentioned in the article, visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #MindYourHead