Those of you who are regular readers of the blog will know that a few months ago I profiled rural mental health, as part of a wider campaign to get people talking about the subject (#FarmerMentalHealth on twitter). I did this mainly to get the subject in the spotlight again after the conversation had dissipated after a previous twitter campaign in August 2016, after the tragic suicide of Northamptonshire farmer Rob Chapman. My reason was not overwhelmingly personal, although I, like many others, have seen the effects that a poor state of mental health can have on someone. I think it’s something that all of us have a duty to talk about. ThinkingCountry is all about profiling issues that often aren’t in the spotlight, and I hoped that it would give confidence to others to speak out, which fantastically it seems to have done. Particular thanks must go to Wrexham farmer Will Evans (who blogs at fatherandfarmer.com) and Mark Whitley, the editor of the Countryman Magazine, for really getting behind the topic, writing about the subject and spreading its profile. Will even published an article in Farmers Weekly.
It is an issue that affects thousands of people and if you search for them, you can find some really tragic stories of the realities of the situation for many, including break downs and suicide.
A few days ago, Will tweeted about a podcast episode from sharkfarmer (available here) in which the wonderful Meg Brown, a cattle rancher from California, spoke out about her experiences relating to depression. It is well worth a listen! She drills home the message that we all need to talk about it and remove the stigma from agriculture (and within the wider rural community).
Yesterday, it was brilliant to hear mental health profiled on BBC Farming Today, if tragic to hear the specific story.
Please let’s keep #FarmerMentalHealth in the spotlight, keep talking, keep looking out for signs within our communities and keep helping each other. Thank you to everyone who has got involved so far and if you haven’t please use the #FarmerMentalHealth on social media, look into the subject more and talk to your friends and families. It is something that all of us can do. If we leave it up to the various authorities, as important as their work is, it will often be too late.
I would really like to put together a series of guest blog posts on mental health in agriculture – please contact me if you are interested in getting involved.