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Pressures farmers face impacts mental health and wellbeing 

Reaching our final topic from our Managing Risk in Farming eBook, we look at the pressures farmers are facing right across the sector that is having a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing. Linda Davy, Account Executive from our Harrogate branch, gives her insurance perspective on getting support when you need it.

While it’s difficult to quantify the numbers of individuals living with mental health issues within farming, levels of depression in the industry are thought to be increasing. Suicide rates in farmers are among the highest in any occupational group.

The sad truth is that approximately one agricultural worker dies by suicide every week in the UK (1), with the risk of suicide being higher amongst individuals working in specific agricultural roles such as harvesting crops and rearing animals – almost twice the national average (2).

While there appears to be no single cause, the nature of farming itself – the isolated and often solitary nature of the work, the long and unsociable hours and lack of time off, combined with the uncertainties around weather and indeed financial security – are all thought to be influencing factors.

What is certainly true is that many farmers are likely to struggle in silence. According to research by the Farm Safety Foundation, 4/5 young farmers (under 40) believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem today (3).

Certainly, these issues represent a considerable number of calls and cases dealt with by the Farming
Community Network. Emotional wellbeing is a critical issue and the establishment of a range of support organisations and initiatives is warmly welcomed – including the Yellow Wellies initiative from the Farm Safety Foundation and the online Farmwell service from Farming Community Network (FCN). Both offer a range of services to support wellbeing and help address isolation, depression, anxiety and more.

There is also a wide range of local support networks, including the Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN), that offer a variety of emotional and practical support to farming and rural communities.

The insurance perspective: Support when you need it

The amount of support on offer through national and local wellbeing services is considerable. In times of stress and anxiety, these organisations can be a lifeline.

As a responsible and community focused organisation ourselves, we certainly recognise the value of wellbeing of all our staff and clients. We are active in the community - both in terms of our people volunteering at events and through sponsorship of wellbeing-focused charity events. We work with the Lincolnshire Rural Support Network, The Farmer Network in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, and are proud to be an RSABI supporter in Scotland for many years. While emotional issues are, of course, best left to experts and volunteers, Marsh Commercial can offer practical support through our risk management, health and safety, and farm insurance service portfolio.

These certainly can help by providing a little more of peace of mind that your people, business and livelihoods are as protected as they can be. As part of your communities, this is a priority for us and is something we take very seriously.

Sources:

(1) http://www.farmbusiness.co.uk/news/more-then-one-farmer-a-week-in-the-uk-dies-by-suicide-2.html 
(2)https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/suicidebyoccupation/england2011to2015
(3) https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/four-.fths-of-farmers-under-40-think-mental-health-is-biggest-problem-facing-sector-79371

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