A manual designed to help farmers look after their health and combat the high rates of stress in the profession has been launched in Staffordshire.
The ‘Fit for Farming’ manual will give farmers the tools to help manage their physical and mental health, and point them to services that will help them in times of crisis.
Occupational studies of stress have repeatedly identified farmers as a high risk group, with farming the fourth highest occupation in terms of mortality rates.
Statistics also show that in the UK alone, one farmer a week takes their own life.
The Fit for Farming manual contains information, tips and more importantly, signposts farmers to organisations that can help them with a variety of physical and mental issues.
It aims to show farmers that they do not have to deal with these issues in isolation.
This guide to men’s health for Staffordshire farmers has been generated by Staffordshire County Council in association with the Men’s Health Forum, and was launched at the county show.
Farmer Philip Atkins, council leader, said the manual was essential to help the good health and wellbeing of farming families.
He said: “As an arable and sheep farmer, farming and rural issues are very close to my heart.
“Farmers are working harder and longer and have to rely on others more for help and support, so the good health and wellbeing of farming families and the extended workforce is always a very important issue.
“This health manual is designed to provide awareness to all those working on the land, providing the guidance needed to stay well and age healthily.
He said while the brochure was seemingly aimed at men, the contribution to farming made by women and young people was “not without recognition” and the council hoped that everyone connected with farming would find it useful and informative.
Charles Smith, Farming Community Network charity chief executive, said: “This manual is an excellent initiative to encourage them to deal with health concerns before they escalate and they suffer serious, or worse still, life threatening consequences.
“Where we have used this manual elsewhere in the country, it has encouraged a much more open dialogue, particular with regard to mental health issues, helping to break down the taboos and encouraging farmers to seek help.
“It really is a potential life saver.”
The Fit for Farming manual is available free, and can be accessed online here.
The charity provides pastoral and practical support to farmers and the FCN helpine is on 0845 367 9990 from 7am to 11pm every day and people can also email Y2hyaXNAZmNuLm9yZy51aw==