From the outside, farming can seem an idyllic life. But for many of the 465,000 people working in the UK farming industry, it can be a relentless and often isolating way to live. With worries building over financial issues, red tape and even the weather, it’s small wonder that farmers’ mental health can be a big issue. In fact, four out of five famer workers under 401 cite poor mental health as the biggest problem they face today.
Worryingly, the suicide rate for male farm workers is three times the male national average2 and every week, three people in the UK farming and agricultural industry die by suicide.3
Thankfully, no one needs to struggle alone.
The UK’s farming industry boasts a number of organisations offering services that can help its members with their mental health. These include the Farm Safety Foundation: its Little Book of Minding Your Head is an accessibly guide to mental health issues and how to address them; and YANA (You Are Not Alone), which offers help for farmers and other rural businesses affected by stress and depression.
“The suicide rate for male farm workers is three times the national male average.”
What to do if you're worried about someone
We can all help someone who is struggling with their mental health. The most important thing to do is to start the conversation:
- Ask them how they are. And ask them again. Let them talk about what’s upsetting them.
- Be reassuring. Tell them you will help them to get the help they need.
- Encourage them to talk to their GP and offer to go with them.
- Check back in with them regularly.
You can also take the ZSA’s free online training, which will give you more information about how to help people, and more confidence to do so.
Information about what to do if someone is in a mental health crisis and needs urgent mental health support can be found on our urgent help pages.
- YANA Rural Mental Health Support, www.yanahelp.org, helpline: 0300 323 0400
- The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, www.ahdb.org.uk
- Farm Community Network, www.farmwell.org.uk
- The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, www.rabi.org.uk
- Farm Safety Foundation, www.yellowwellies.org
- Hub of Hope directory, www.hubofhope.co.uk
- Farm Safety Foundation (2020)
- Office for National Statistics (2015)
- Office for National Statistics (2021), Public Health Scotland (2021), OpenDataNI (2018)