Wooler woman aims to tackle stigma surrounding mental health in agriculture

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A Northumberland woman is planning a charity ball to raise funds and awareness of mental health issues in the farming industry.

Caitlin Riddell, from Wooler, is keen to tackle stigma around the subject following her own battle with mental health whilst working in the industry four years ago.

“As an industry, agriculture has one of the highest rates of mental health problems and suicide, particularly in young men,” says Caitlin.

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“Farmers are under so much pressure – financially, environmentally, family pressures, through legislation and even the public’s perception of agriculture.

Caitlin Riddell is organising a charity ball.Caitlin Riddell is organising a charity ball.
Caitlin Riddell is organising a charity ball.

"Along with long hours, lone working and very little time off the farm, it can leave people in a desperate situation and it’s up to us all to pull together and tackle this.”

The ball in aid of the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) takes place at the Glendale Showfield on Saturday, October 29, thanks to the kind support of Mr and Mrs Davidson and Lilburn Estate.

Yellow Wellies is the charity behind the Mind Your Head campaign which was established to preserve and protect the mental wellbeing of young farmers and young people moving into agriculture.

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In its annual tracker research conducted in October last year, 92% of farmers under the age of 40 cited poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today – a 10% increase since 2018.

The Office of National Statistics registered 102 suicides in England and Wales by people working in the agricultural related trades in 2019.

Caitlin said: “The figures are devastating, and the rate at which they are increasing is frightening.

"Despite mental health awareness having come a long way, unfortunately there is still some stigma attached to it, especially in farming.

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"So often farmers feel they must live up to the stereotype of being tough and resilient which prevents them seeking help.

“I know first-hand how easy it is to bulldoze on and pretend everything is fine. Until it’s not.

"These charities are a lifeline for a lot of people, and if this event can help spread the message that it’s okay not to be okay and encourage even one person to reach out or start a conversation, then it’s a step in the right direction.”

To make a donation, or get involved with the event, please contact Caitlin at http://[email protected]

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