Coronavirus: Mental health support is out there

Duncan Hawley's silhouette agains the backdrop of barn and farmhouse

The impact of the coronavirus is causing uncertainty, stress and anxiety for many farmers, but help is at hand for those who need it. Hear how Britain’s farming charities can help support you.

NFU member Richard Betton is a tenant farmer in Teesdale where he and his wife have small pedigree Aberdeen Angus suckler herd and a flock of 280 Swaledale sheep. Their land is a Special Area of Conservation designated for the wide range of wading birds and the unique flora.

Feeding hill sheep (Richard Betton)_31515

Richard also works as the Northern Regional Director for the Farming Community Network (FCN) and he says help is out there for those struggling with their mental wellbeing. He writes:

"The impacts of the coronavirus outbreak are being felt by farmers and growers right across the UK. Whether it’s uncertainty around their business, concern for their own and their families’ health, or the increased pressure of getting food on to supermarket shelves, it is a difficult and stressful time for us all.

"As a farmer myself I know the pressures we are under. Even before the coronavirus hit the UK, farmers were dealing with severe flooding, the implications of Brexit, the constant threat of bovine TB and media misinformation around livestock farming in Britain. The mental health and wellbeing of the farming community was already taking a hit.

"But I also know help is out there. I have seen so many people reach out to the FCN network and receive the help they need – even if it’s just a friendly voice at the end of the phone.

"The farming charities in this country are geared to deal with the very specific issues and problems that farmers face. In the 2001 their support was crucial in bringing farming families through the Foot and Mouth crisis and we are here to help you through the coronavirus outbreak. Whether it’s FCN, RABI or other charities – please use us. We are there to help you.

"Time is one of the most valuable gifts any person can give to someone else. That’s what we offer at FCN to compliment the more practical assistance of RABI and other charities, and that’s what we can offer each other to help us all through this incredibly difficult time.

"Remember, you are not alone, it’s alright not to cope, and there is no shame in asking for help.

"To talk to a sympathetic person who understands farming and rural life, call FCN on 03000 111999."

You can find more information and contact details of farming charities here:

Stuart Roberts_59269

    NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “I am immensely proud and grateful that we have farming charities which can provide anything from a sympathetic ear to financial support for those who need it, especially in times like these. They really can make the world of difference for anyone who is struggling.

    “Help is also available through the NFU network and the wider farming community. Help doesn’t need to be practical or financial – help can be a conversation – and in this new world of social distancing maintaining contact with each other is even more important. We can’t physically pop over to see our neighbour but we can still pick up the phone and check in.

    “History has shown us just what the farming industry can do at times of crisis. This is a time to lean on each other and, with the support of the NFU, farming charities and the farming community, we can help each other through the next few months.”

    Coronavirus: Updates and advice

    This news hub on NFUonline will be updated regularly to keep you up to date with what you need to know and how to deal with the various issues raised by coronavirus. Visit the hub.

    Click here to use the NFU's COVID-19 business impact service.

    By using this form, farmers and growers can provide information on any business-critical issues they have encountered, or expect to encounter, arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. The NFU will log this information and use it in an anonymised format to flag the key issues agriculture and horticulture are facing to government on a daily basis. However, no personal data will be shared with the government. The service is for all farmers and growers across the UK.

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