Why we should all talk about mental health

11 October 2022

Andrew Bebb Chairman Shropshire Rural Support

We all face times of stress, experiencing anxiety, and many of us will be clinically depressed at some stage in our lives. Shropshire farmer and NFU member Andrew Bebb explains that we need to break down the stigma surrounding mental health once and for all – it is ok to be not ok.

For some, experiencing ‘lows’, can be very short lived as we learn to cope, manage and overcome our problems. For others the ‘lows’ can extend for years and require medical intervention.

Many men, especially in the agriculture industry, are not good at seeking medical advice for fear of being stigmatised.

Statistically 25% of males will not reach their 65th birthday, that’s frightening. A change of mind set is needed, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Accepting we have a problem

We need to accept that we have a problem, and I’m as guilty as anyone for avoiding a trip to the GP surgery. When we are ready to accept that we have a problem we are halfway to finding a solution.

We all need to be a bit more aware of our own mental health issues and those of our friends, families, and neighbour’s, especially in our rural communities. Notice mood changes. Are they feeling OK. Ask them.

We all work long hours, I recall being on a zoom meeting in the spring with non-farmers who were working 38-hour weeks, I explained that it is lambing time for farmers, you can put a one in front of the 38 hours.

Tiredness leads to accidents and there lies a factor in the fatality figures on farms. With the long and sometimes isolated hours we work, life can get us down at times, but it hasn’t got to be like that. With a positive mental attitude, no problem is insurmountable.

Help is out there

Confidential help is available through a number of charities.

Here in Shropshire, we have SRS (Shropshire Rural Support) who have been helping the rural community for over 30 years and have this year been recognised by being receiving the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

I have been involved with SRS for some 20 years, working closely the Trading Standards, Animal and Plant Health Agency, British Cattle Movement Service and the Rural Payments Agency.

We have helped people overcome issues from bovine TB to bereavement, from divorce to family disputes or financial problems, and everything in between.

We act as a free befriending service and act as an intermediary between people in need of support and experts who can provide the best help.

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.