Farm Safety Week: Mind your head as much as your body

Yesterday’s Farm Safety Week stories stressed the importance of protecting your head when you’re on a quad. But it’s not just helmets and physical injuries which are important to guard against.

Health and safety on farms takes many different forms; one which is too often ignored is mental health and wellbeing.

Agriculture is an industry which has a difficult relationship with good mental health and the willingness to seek help for it.

In the UK, one farmer takes their own life every week. This is a stark figure and if you add it to the figures for ‘fatal injuries on farms’ you would see that number more than double.

The cases of farmers suffering from mental health issues do not have to end tragically, there are places to go to and people to speak to.

‘Talk to RSABI – don’t ignore it’

Adam*, a farmer in his 40s, who had been involved in agriculture for his entire working life, was suffering from stress when his employer urged him to contact Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI).

After contacting RSABI, Adam was visited by a case officer who listened to the issues. The pair looked at the family’s finances and discussed the options that may be available for him to pursue.

“RSABI pointed me in the right direction,” said Adam. “The help and support I have received from RSABI has made such a big difference to me and my family. Knowing there is someone there to talk to has helped my stress levels too.”

What would Adam say to others struggling to make ends meet? “Talk to RSABI – don’t ignore it. RSABI can help,” he said.

‘We listen’

Mags Granger, RSABI welfare manager, said: “We listen; that’s very first thing we do. If someone comes to us directly, we take the opportunity to chat, we can offer services if they need counselling or they just want one of our case officers to go around and visit.

“We talk about any pressures and look at any practical help we can give towards to alleviating some of these worries.

Apparently, there is quite a large correlation between people that are suffering from a low mood and accidents occurring.

“You also might not be as aware of the safety aspects as your mind is being taken up by other stuff.

“And generally, sometimes just not getting the job done at all itself can lead to farm safety injuries.

“Our helpline is open to anyone working within the industry who needs help. It can be reached on: 0300-111-4166.”

Help is also available for farmers and rural families in other parts of the UK. A national directory launched by YANA (You Are Not Alone) lists both national and region services.

*Name changed to maintain confidentiality.