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Moulton area young farmer says it’s time to speak up and smash the stigma in farming

A young farmer is asking fellow people in the industry to smash through the stigma and speak up about their mental health.

Kerry Gratton, a fifth generation farmer whose family works in the Moulton area, is hoping to encourage others to speak out as part of the Farm Safety Foundation/Yellow Wellies Mind Your Head week, in a bid to help to put an end to ignoring the elephant in the room.

The campaign is in its fourth year and is running all week to raise awareness of the issues facing farmers today and Kerry, who is a member of Spalding Young Farmers club, hopes it will help those who are currently struggling in silence.

Kerry Gratton, a member of Spalding Young Farmers club. (44463919)
Kerry Gratton, a member of Spalding Young Farmers club. (44463919)

She said: “I would saythere is a big stigma around talking about your mental health in the farming industry. But it’s a very lonely job as you’re generally on your own in the tractor, completely isolated, from 6am to 7pm unless you go back for parts which doesn’t happen too often.

“Then most people are alone at home in the evenings before starting all over again the next day, meaning that some farmers often go weeks and months without seeing someone, especially at the moment with the pandemic.”

A recent study by Yellow Wellies, found that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern, and have a direct impact on safety on the farm.The study showed that 88 per cent of farmers under the age of 40 now rate poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem faced by farmers today.

Meanwhile, 89 per cent of young farmers believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it .

Kerry said: “I think because there’s a lot of men in the industry they feel almost stupid if they talk about their problems or that they should just ‘get on with it’. Women usually talk about their feelings but many men tend to try to deal with things in their own way.

“However, I think if just one person speaks up it will start a chain reaction as they will see that it’s okay to talk about how you are feeling.

“COVID has paused people being able to visit the pub, but if when we are back to normal people get together for a drink and a chat it will give them the option to discuss it.

“Although farmers are stuck in their tractor all day, often without any internet access, if they were to pop into the pub after work and see a Yellow Wellies poster it could make them think and give them the option to discuss it. It’s not a case of being seen to look weak –it’s so important to talk.”

For more information, visit visit www.yellowwellies.org.

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