Poor mental health is a significant issue in farming. The never-ending volatility of the industry, the threat of animal disease, the uncertainty about the future, the unpredictable weather, the long (and sometimes anti-social) working hours and the loneliness of farming all means that farmers and their family members are extremely vulnerable to poor mental wellbeing. The sad reality is that in the UK, more than one member of the farming community a week dies by suicide.
When times get tough, it can be difficult for farmers to know where to turn - this is where the Farming Community Network (FCN) can help.
FCN has over 400 volunteers throughout England and Wales, who provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who seeks help. Most of FCN’s volunteers are involved in farming, or have close links with agriculture and therefore have a great understanding of the issues farming families regularly face.
People turn to FCN for help for a wide variety of issues, including financial problems, concerns about bovine TB and other animal diseases, family relationship breakdowns and worries about the future. But the one thing that the majority of those people have in common is that they are all experiencing some form of poor mental wellbeing. The aim of FCN is to help tackle the underlying issues that led them to their negative feelings and try and guide them to a more positive place in their life.
Whether the issue is personal or business-related, FCN’s volunteers will “walk with” those that need help and support them for as long as it takes.
It is widely anticipated that our workload will increase in the aftermath of Brexit, so we believe that we have a duty to ensure that farmers are prepared for any changes that lie ahead. We must focus on helping them build personal and business resilience.
There is some great information available to help farmers become more resilient, but this information is rarely in one place and can often be difficult to access, especially if you are dealing with reduced mental wellbeing.
This is why we have launched a brand new initiative called FarmWell.
FarmWell is a one-stop online resources hub to help farmers and their businesses stay strong and resilient. FarmWell will give ready access to a range of vital information from a wide variety of sources. It is free to use and it has three clear aims:
FarmWell is available to use now and is already attracting interest from a wide variety of key agricultural stakeholders, including the NFU and AHDB. To learn more about FarmWell, visit www.farmwell.org.uk.
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