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Gloucestershire Business News

Adam Henson backs mental health campaign

Gloucestershire's Adam Henson is getting behind a new mental health in farming campaign launching today (February 12).

The TV presenter and owner of Cotswold Farm Park was inspired by the shock of losing a farming friend to suicide in 2018 to start campaigning and raising awareness of the mental health issues affecting the industry.

Adam Henson said: "I have lived on a farm and been involved in farming all my life. As anyone working in farming knows, every day brings potential joy and disaster - you never quite know what is going to happen and there are many things you can't control."

Rural charity the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) is today launching an award-winning film through its social media channels, as part of the seventh annual Mind Your Head campaign.

WAKE is a film about how a family comes to terms with tragic loss and how they cope both psychologically and practically.

Rebecca Rose, the film's co-writer and director, said: "WAKE raises awareness of the under-reported social issue of mental health and suicide in the seemingly idyllic countryside setting and how simple conversations about feelings can start a process to prevent the downward spiral toward the finality of suicide."

The film stars Gavin and Stacey actress, Alison Steadman OBE. She said: "I really wanted to be part of this special project, as it aimed to explore the mental health challenges that many farmers are facing but aren't often talked about. It isn't something that many outside the industry are aware of and many within the industry want to acknowledge. I hope this film can encourage more communication within the sector, so people don't have to suffer in silence and can receive support before it's too late."

A recent study by the Farm Safety Foundation revealed that poor mental health among farmers and agricultural workers is of growing concern. In a sample of 450 farmers under the age of 40, respondents almost universally (95%) agreed that poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing the industry today.

The research showed a very clear relationship between average working hours and mental health. Those with shorter working hours demonstrated higher levels of mental wellbeing. Sixty-one per cent of farmers surveyed work at least a 10-hour day and 15% work a 14- or 15-hour day, with many rarely or never taking a day off.

In an industry that continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK, making sure farmers are prioritising their physical and mental wellbeing has never been more important. Twenty-one farm workers lost their lives in farm accidents in 2022/2023, however, there were 36 suicides registered in England and Wales by those working in the farming and agricultural industry in 2021, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

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