Public overwhelmingly recognise importance of farmers' mental health

The public overwhelmingly recognise the importance of healthy farmers, a survey shows (Photo: RABI)
The public overwhelmingly recognise the importance of healthy farmers, a survey shows (Photo: RABI)

Farmers should not be expected to provide food and environmental benefits at the detriment of their mental health, according to a survey of the general public.

Farming charity RABI's survey, released today (18 April), has revealed strong public backing for fair prices and protecting farmers’ mental health.

Most of the 1,000 respondents highly supported farmers, with 90% of the public agreeing that their mental health should not be impacted while doing their vital work.

Recognition for farmers’ contribution to the countryside, local economy and rural community was also high, as was their contribution to UK targets on food security, climate and the environment.

When asked, ‘where best should wellbeing support for British farmers come from?’, responses advocated for improved collaboration across society, including the third sector, government, retailers and consumers themselves.

The respondents, who ranged in age from 17 to 79 and were based in both urban (75%) and rural settings, all held very similar views on the industry.

RABI’s chief executive, Alicia Chivers said the charity was 'heartened' by the public’s wider recognition of farmers’ contributions to society and the collective need to protect their mental health.

“We believe that collaboration is key if we are to make a tangible difference to the health of our farming communities," she said.

"It’s imperative we all work together to develop solutions that prevent people spiralling into poor mental health.

"It’s reassuring to see the public agreeing that improving access to mental health services for farmers should be a collective effort.”

It comes after MPs accused the government of having a 'worrying degree of complacency' over rural mental health issues, specifically regarding farmers.

Their report, published in November 2023, found that farmers face particular stresses, including unpredictable weather, isolation, connectivity and animal health crises.

Farmers also faced changing and uncertain government policies which can affect their incomes as well as their mental health, the report said.

Ms Chivers said RABI was now needed 'more than ever': "The wellbeing of the farming community is everybody’s responsibility," she added.

"RABI are confident that we have opportunity to help build a future where farming people can be empowered to thrive.”