One third of farmers in UK could be depressed: Poll

2021-10-14 21:42:12
One third of farmers in UK could be depressed: Poll

Over a third of farmers in Britain could be suffering from depression, according to a new survey of wellbeing in agriculture.

The survey by the University of Exeter and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) spoke to 15,000 people in UK farming and is thought to be the largest of its kind.

Female farmers reported particularly high levels of anxiety.

The causes of stress include financial pressure, physical pain, the Covid-19 pandemic, regulations and bad weather. Covid has disrupted supply chains and the availability of workers as people changed jobs or left the UK, putting pressure on farms.

The rise in extreme weather is also causing serious concern with 44% of people calling it a significant worry. Floods and periods of dry weather have caused serious problems for farmers in parts in the UK, including in Yorkshire and East Midlands in recent years.

Isolation and long hours also play a factor in poor wellbeing, and younger people reported higher levels of loneliness than across the general population.

"Mental health in agriculture is the elephant in the room. No-one really wants to talk about loneliness, anxiety or suicide but it's there. This report has emphasised the need for the whole farming community to tackle the issue and encourage farmers to take notice, open up and talk to each other," said Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation.

About 472,000 people work in farming across the UK, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

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