This week farmers' mental health is in focus as the Farm Safety Foundation launch the Mind Your Head campaign.

A recent study by the foundation found that mental health issues among farmers are of growing concern and having a direct impact of safety on farms.

Nearly 90 per cent of farmers under the age of 40 now rank poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today.

In an industry where 20 farm workers lost their lives in fatal farm accidents in 2019/2020, there were a total of 102 suicides registered in England and Wales in those working in farming and agricultural related trades, according to the Office of National Statistics.

James Hosking, 28, considered taking his own life after his family had to sell their Cornish dairy farm.

James started working on the farm from the age of 12. After a few family bereavements, the farm started to struggle then another family illness meant than James and his father had to rotate days working on the farm.

James starting skipping college to work long labouring days on the farm.

With the dairy industry in decline, money was tight and without enough profit, James’ family had to downscale and sell their dairy production to ensure stability.

As college came to a close, James got a job as a restaurant manager but still spent time socializing at Young Farmers Club.

He felt as though he was constantly being judged for being a ‘failed dairy farmer’ and his mood became so low he contemplated taking his own life.

After trying moving away from home and returning to work at another dairy farm, James took part in “#AgriChat”, a discussion about mental health on Twitter.

This was just the start of James sharing his story to help others.

A Type 1 diabetes diagnosis in September 2019 meant James had to make the difficult decision to move away from farming.

He now works as a dairy sales specialist and is living happily in Launceston with his fiancée.

Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “Humans are social animals. We not only enjoy each other’s company, but we also thrive on it.

"Digital solutions have tremendous value, however we must not underestimate the value of talking through our problems.

"It sounds non-technical, and therefore old-fashioned, but getting farmers to open up is the very first step to building a holistic approach to mental health in the industry.

“It is so important to encourage a habit within agriculture that explicitly recognises how the job can, and does, impact on the wellbeing of everyone living and working in it and how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job.

"Given the year we have just experienced, making sure we are all looking after our physical and mental wellbeing has never been more relevant."

The farming industry faces many stress factors, which are placing increased pressure on workers and putting them at greater risk of mental ill health.

During the last year, the coronavirus pandemic will have only increased the mental health effects on farmers and could continue long after the virus has gone.

The Mind Your Head campaign will focus on prevention and early identification of risk factors associated with those working in farming and also aims to highlight the wealth of support available.