A leading farming charity is calling on Dorset farmers to start looking after themselves mentally as well as physically.

Many farmers are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops and machinery, but neglect to take care of themselves and their own wellbeing.

Levels of depression in the industry are thought to be increasing, with suicide rates in farmers amongst the 50 highest in any occupation group, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics, ‘Suicide by occupation in England: 2011 to 2015’.

The figures show there were 62 male farmer suicides and three female farmer suicides in that period.

Stress is something that many farmers face at some point and is an important contributor to mental health problems.

Some farmers still perceive a stigma attached to mental health and are reluctant to speak out.

The Farm Safety Foundation has launched it’s Mind Your Head campaign, which aims to encourage farmers and farming families not to neglect themselves, but to put themselves first.

The foundation is bringing together key organisations in the industry to work together for this campaign in the hope that farmers and families know where, when and how to seek help when they need it.

The campaign has links with the NFYFC’s Rural+ campaign, with the Federation promoting key messages throughout the week in support of Mind Your Head.

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Gina Fusco, chair of trustees of the Farm Safety Foundation, said: “Mental health is an issue that is very much at the heart of the farming community but one that few farmers feel comfortable discussing.

“The purpose of this ‘Mind Your Head’ campaign is to encourage conversations and address the stigma surrounding mental wellbeing.”

Mike Miller, Dorset Young Farmers Club (YFC) thinks this is a step in the right direction.

He said: “The launch of the ‘Mind your head’ campaign will provide a starting platform for farmers to open up and talk about what it on their mind, allowing them to get help when necessary.

“It is my hope that Dorset YFC can play it’s part in this campaign by providing it’s 290 members across nine clubs with the NFYFC Rural+ Curve module, designed to increase awareness of the issues associated with rural isolation and mental health.

“I encourage everyone to pass it on and to get everyone talking about mental health, #MindYourHead”

There are several support groups for farmers in Dorset.

They are:

* Farming Community Network (FCN) – 0300 111999 or visit fcn.org.uk

* Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) – 0808 2819490 or visit rabi.org.uk

* Dorset Mind – 01202 551660 or visit dorsetmind.uk

For more information on ‘mind your head’, visit yellowwellies.org, or search Yellow Wellies on Facebook and Twitter.