NI young farmer is star of annual mental health campaign hero film

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A young farmer from Northern Ireland has joined the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) as part of efforts to raise awareness around poor mental health in the industry.

The charity engaged farm safety ambassador Daniel Boomer to be the star of this year's hero film. Six-foot tall Northern Ireland young farmer Daniel has lost several close friends to suicide and has been working with the charity to increase knowledge and awareness of poor mental health at his university Harper Adams as well as beyond.

At this year’s Royal Welsh Winter Fair Daniel stood blindfolded carrying a sign saying “95% of young farmers in the UK say that poor mental health is the biggest hidden danger in the industry. If you agree, give me a hug or take a flower.”

The candid reactions of passers-by were fillmed and can be seen in a new hero film released today for the charity’s 2024 Mind Your Head campaign.

The campaign awareness at the Royal Welsh Winter FairThe campaign awareness at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair
The campaign awareness at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair

According to Daniel: “The biggest thing pushing me that day was the thought that, if I can stand in the middle of a crowd, blindfolded, in darkness but still be able to reach out and seek the warmth of people’s love and support then you can as well. I liked the idea that the blindfold symbolised mental health and every time I received a hug or someone said hello to me, I felt seen and connected. The blindfold didn’t feel so tight and the light soon came through.”

Stephanie adds: “Filming took place on a particularly cold day but this didn’t stop the warmth of the crowd from shining through. When we approached the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society with our idea, they were supportive and welcoming, but nothing prepared us for the reactions of all those visitors who came up and shared the love and shared their stories. For anyone who doubts that our farming community is truly special, please take 90 seconds, watch the video and be inspired.”

Farming in the UK has been hit by an increase in flooding, drought, and heatwaves in recent years. The effects of the relentless season of storms have had huge consequences for those whose lives and livelihoods depend on the land. Fields flooded, crops destroyed and animals in danger have made recent headlines but this is only the tip of the iceberg. The UK’s farming industry has faced many challenges over the past few years but the emerging mental health challenge may prove the most devastating.

In an industry that continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK, making sure farmers are prioritising their physical and mental wellbeing has never been more important. 21 farm workers lost their lives in farm accidents in 2022/2023, however, there were 36 suicides registered in England and Wales by those working in the farming and agricultural industry in 2021 according to the Office of National Statistics.

This week, the charity will be focusing on the issue through their seventh annual Mind Your Head campaign. The campaign will continue to raise awareness of the various challenges facing the UK’s farming industry, break down the stigma attached to poor mental health in the farming sector but recognise that there are steps being taken to address it.

For more information on the Mind Your Head campaign please visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow them on social media - @yellowwelliesUK on Facebook, Instagram and X using the hashtag #MindYourHead