Make mental health a priority during Mind Your Head week

15 February 2022

An image of a farmer in a field watching the sun set

Like any business owners, farmers can struggle with stress, worries and anxiety. When this is coupled with the isolated nature of farming, these feelings can often be amplified. Find out more about the help at hand in the sixth annual Yellow Wellies #MindYourHead campaign.

Everyone has a role to play in making sure we all stay safe. Recent research showed that four out of five young farmers (under 40) believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today. (Source: Farm Safety Foundation Annual Safety Tracker Under 40s Oct 2021)

Hear from two young farmers below.

Thomas Saunders

Thomas grew up on a mixed farm in Bedfordshire. He is a student at Harper Adams University and a former NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador.

“This year’s Mind Your Head week gives us an opportunity to talk openly about how to look after our wellbeing and create an environment every day of the year where others in the agricultural community feel safe to share, if they are struggling.

“I’m very fortunate in that I haven’t experienced too many challenges with my own mental health, but the Farm Safety Foundation’s campaign is such an important one and helps dispel the myths attached to anyone suffering with their mental health.

“We have to keep saying it, but our mental health is just as important as our physical health and they are linked. One of the real positives of working in the farming industry is that we’re constantly outside on the move, doing physical jobs that make us fit and healthy and that can really help with our mental wellbeing.

Adopting a positive work-life balance

“Something that’s also really helped me keep good mental health is having boundaries in my working hours. Too often as young farmers we’ve seen our parents work out on the farm all day and come back in the evening to sit for hours in the office doing paperwork. Having that work-life balance is vital and even at university I try to stick to a working day and then switch off in the evening.

“It’s important to remember to do things outside of farming too to improve our mental health. When I’ve had a bad day, I find rugby training with my mates always helps and putting on the cricket or Six Nations helps me unwind and relax. The smallest things can often have the biggest impact.

“Creating those spaces for people in the farming community to share their mental health experiences is so important. As a former NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador I will be trying to open up conversations about wellbeing. That’s why this week I will be calling a friend each evening to check in and as Farm Safety Foundation suggest, ask twice how they’re doing.”

Mary Raymond

Mary grew up on a mixed farm in Pembrokeshire. She studies agri-business at Reading University and is a former NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador.

“It’s the Farm Safety Foundation’s Mind Your Head week. This important campaign works to challenge the perceptions of mental health in farming and agriculture. A big part of removing the stigma around mental health is talking about our own experiences to help others see that it is a normal part of life.

“Many people found the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown hard, but for me that’s when I thrived. Being at home in the countryside on our farm made me so happy. I love being around my parents, the farm animals and my dog, a cheeky little bobtail collie.

“Now I’ve come away to university, I’ve really struggled with my mental health. I’ve felt lonely and homesick and on a university visit to a dairy farm recently it all got a bit much and I became really upset.

Confide in your trusted circle

“Fostering a sense of community is so important in rural areas and in farming. Talking openly in those communities that we trust about our own mental health is vital as it provides the opportunity for others to share and see that they’re not alone.

“At university I’ve found my agriculture course mates, many of whom are young men, to be a real help for me while I’m struggling. That really gives me hope that the stigma around mental health, especially for young men, is being lifted.

“With 92% of UK farmers under 40 saying mental health is one of the biggest hidden problems facing farmers today, reflecting on the mental health benefits of working in the industry is so worthwhile.

Keeping the positives in mind

“When I’m working at home I have the most stunning view across the coast, something I would never have sitting in an office job, and it makes me feel so lucky. I also get such joy during lambing season, hearing the lambs and their mums really helps my wellbeing. And as mental and physical health are so closely linked, I’m thankful for the fitness farming has given me.

“We should all prioritise our mental health each and every day. I play rugby and chat with friends to nurture mine. During this year’s Mind Your Head week I’m going to share more of my own mental health experiences on social media now I’m appointed as an NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador. What will you be doing?”

Reach out

Mental health issues do not discriminate. No-one is immune.

They can affect anyone, and there are reasons why sometimes people working in agriculture can be some of the hardest hit.

Take a look at some of the resources available online and reach out using the #MindYourHead hashtag.

Read Young Farmer Focus: NFU Ambassador Zoe Legg on mental health (

Get more help on mental health issues

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