Generational gap exists in tackling farming’s mental health stigma

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Farming’s increasingly isolated nature is leaving rural communities vulnerable to mounting mental health problems, charity leaders have warned.

They hailed the efforts of the region’s agricultural organisations in raising the profile of the issue but admitted there is much more work to do to reach older generations, many of whom remain too proud to seek help.

Younger generations are more engaged with taking about their wellbeing, according to Helen Benson, Yorkshire co-ordinator of The Farming Community Network.

Younger generations are more engaged with taking about their wellbeing, according to Helen Benson, Yorkshire co-ordinator of The Farming Community Network.

The Yorkshire Post today examines mental health in farming to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week and amid growing wellbeing concerns ahead of Brexit changes to the industry.

Read more in a special series of reports on mental health in farming here

Stress is cited by the National Farmers’ Union as a key factor in the number of on-farm accidents. One of Britain’s most dangerous industries, on average their are 32 deaths annually in the UK.

Read more: Agriculture fails to shake off ‘most dangerous’ tag

Beyond that, there were 339 suicides in England of people aged 20 to 64 working in skilled agricultural and related trades between 2011 and 2015, including 65 farmers and 59 farm workers.

Helen Benson, Yorkshire co-ordinator of farming charity The Farming Community Network, said ill mental health in agriculture is caused by a combination of issues, including loneliness.

Tackling it comes down to “how open we are to talking about it”, she said. “Young people are more willing to engage in general. They are growing up with it being talked about. It’s not a case of ‘men don’t cry’ anymore.”

Read more in a special series of reports on mental health in farming here