Barclays is rolling out specialised mental health training from today for all 150 agricultural managers working for its Business Bank across Wales and the UK.
They will learn about the mental health triggers that particularly affect farmers, how to spot early warning signs of a deterioration in their mental health, and how to be there to provide practical assistance and support to their agriculture clients when they need it most.
Poor mental health is emerging as one of the biggest, yet unspoken challenges in the farming industry. Everyone in the agriculture community, from farmers to bankers, has a collective responsibility to care for one another and reduce the stigma of mental health. By creating an open culture within the sector, we can proactively reduce the number of workers who struggle with mental health. Suicide rates among farmers are the highest in any occupational group, and almost twice the national average. Sadly, an agriculture worker in the UK commits suicide every week.
Barclays Head of Agriculture, Mark Suthern, was on Radio 4s Farming Today recently, and said:
“It’s so relevant at the moment. When I’m out talking to farmers, and particularly young farmers, they’re really mindful about the impact on agriculture as a sector, because of its loneliness, isolation, long hours – mental health and well-being is becoming one of the biggest problems facing the sector.”
“It’s about the language that people use in emails or in telephone messages, and it’s about being alert to those initial signs of stress, uncertainty, and then having the ability to do a number of things – to be there to listen, and to understand, and to hear what the farmers are saying, but then to also be able to signpost to the right support agencies, and I think that’s the part that’s so important.”