'It's acceptable to say I'm not okay': Northamptonshire farmer gets behind mental health crisis campaign

For mental health campaigner, Milly Fyfe life on her farm can often see her putting in 12-hour shifts with not much rest on weekends

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 8:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 11:07 am

Mum-of-two and round-the-clock farmer, Milly Fyfe, has been working on her husband's family arable crop and cattle farm for five years in Yelvertoft.

After her second-born son became poorly last year she found it hard to juggle working long hours on the farm, catching up with friends, looking after her toddler and quickly started to feel isolated.

Farm safety charity, Farm Safety Foundation, launched their third annual Mind Your Head campaign, to raise awareness of the issues facing farmers today and the link between farm safety and mental health.

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Milly pictured on her farm in Yelvertoft

Milly has since become an ambassador for the campaign and wants other farmers to know it is okay to ask for help as being a farmer can be a challenging 24/7 job with often financial uncertainty, change in consumer habits and a blur between home and work life.

She said: "I know people who have taken their own life, it's so shocking. We all work in such isolation and long hours. We don't often have people to talk to.

"We are up at 6am at the moment and we are finishing at 6pm because it's getting darker and that's seven days a week.

"In the summer, with lambing coming up, you are out in the lambing sheds and you have to check them through the night."

Milly and Andrew Fyfe pictured with their little boys called Angus and Dougie. Picture by Tess Cadman Photography

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2018 there were 83 suicides amongst people working in agricultural and related trades in England and Wales.

Talking about the suicide statistic, she added: "It does not surprise me because the farming community is very proud. We have that typical 'get on with it, you're tough, you don't have emotions, you have a job to do' attitude. But I think that's a generational thing.

"But with a campaign like this it's making it acceptable to say 'I'm not okay' and it can signpost people to make a difference.

"Now that my little boy is a lot better I can reflect and I want to help other people. It might be for a short time that it's really hard to handle but for other people it can be really foggy and I want to help them find a way out."

This year’s Mind Your Head campaign will focus on the physical and mental wellbeing of an industry under pressure, and aim to educate those living and working in the UK’s agricultural communities about the various mental health threats facing them.

Those seeking more information on how to tackle poor mental health in the industry can visit the Farm Safety Foundation’s website here.