With mental health an increasing concern in farming, The Farming Community Network (FCN) charity is asking the farming community if it’s really ‘as tough as old boots’ to encourage open conversations and reduce stigma.
A 2021 study by the Farm Safety Foundation suggests 88% of young farmers now rate poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem faced by farmers today. Meanwhile, 89% of young farmers believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it.
FCN has developed a short campaign to encourage the farming community to talk about mental health by creating a series of graphics and a poster asking readers, ‘Are you really as tough as old boots?’ - before breaking down some of the ways in which we might put on a brave face and avoid talking about difficult topics such as suicide, bereavement, loneliness and feeling overwhelmed.
FCN is a national charity which supports farmers and farming families during difficult times. FCN has volunteers in England and Wales and operates a free confidential helpline (03000 111 999) open 7am to 11pm and an e-helpline (firstname.lastname@example.org). FCN helps approximately 6,000 people each year.
The charity hopes readers will share the poster with local GP surgeries, veterinary clinics, village halls and more to help let those living and working in rural and farming communities know that help is available.
Alex Phillimore, Marketing and Communications Manager with The Farming Community Network, said: “Our personal health and wellbeing is a difficult topic to talk about and many suffer in silence. Farmers can have a reputation for being able to weather any storm and overcome any challenge. While farmers are incredibly resilient, there is no harm in letting people know when we need an extra hand, or when we’re worried about something and don’t know how to resolve it on our own.
“We’re certainly stronger together and we hope this campaign will help to challenge preconceived notions and remind farming families that FCN and other charities are here to help. Our ‘tough as old boots’ communication builds upon a similar message that FCN promoted in the past to encourage people to ask for help, before mental health was as widely talked about.”
Earlier this year FCN, working with The National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs and The DPJ Foundation, launched a new Rural+ mental health awareness training module aimed at 10-26 year old YFC members and 16-25 year old ag students.
The charity also helped to launch two short films featuring farmers who have experienced mental ill-health and initially struggled to ask for help. The videos have a positive message, highlighting why it is important to seek support and to talk about what we’re going through when times are tough.
The films are available here:
The poster is available to download via FCN’s website.
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