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Harvesting resilience: New north-east farming expo equips agri community with support tools on World Mental Health Day

By David Porter

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Farmers’ mental health and wellbeing will be a focus this World Mental Health Day at the inaugural Future Farming Expo Scotland.

Set to redefine Scotland’s agricultural show scene, the expo is free to attend and will take place over two days on Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 October at Aberdeen’s P&J Live venue.

Last year, a survey by the Farm Safety Foundation found that 92 per cent of UK farmers under the age of 40 rank poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today.

On World Mental Health Day (October 10) a session, chaired by Heather Wildman of Saviour Associates, will hear from Carol McLaren, chief executive of RSABI, and John Scott, chair of Farmstrong Scotland, about how farmers can build their personal resilience.

With a focus on coping with the challenges that regularly crop up in farming, Carol and John will offer their expert insight into managing stress and creating strategies to foster good mental health and wellbeing.

RSABI provides practical, emotional and financial support to those working within the Scottish agriculture industry.

Carol McLaren
Carol McLaren

Chief executive Carol McLaren commenting said there are some really encouraging signs that people in the farming community are opening up about mental health concerns and that the stigma is reducing: “The response we have had to the Mental Health First Aid training we launched a year ago has been extremely positive and we have now trained more than 300 people working in the frontline with farmers, from consultants to vets, assessors and bankers.

"These first aiders now have the skills and knowledge to know what to look out for, how to respond and where to suggest people who may be struggling with their mental health go for further professional support.”

Ms McLaren said RSABI would shortly be launching its #KeepTalking campaign for the winter months to encourage people in the farming community to connect with each other and in particular to reach out to anyone who may be feeling low or lonely.

Farmstrong Scotland is a new rural wellbeing programme for the farming and crofting sector, sharing peer-to-peer tips and advice.

John Scott
John Scott

Chair John Scott commented: “It is fitting that the session on personal resilience at Future Farming Expo takes place on World Mental Health Day. A chance to remind us that good mental health starts with our wellbeing, and small steps and changes can make a big difference.

“Whether it is taking time each day to enjoy a dinner with family, phoning a friend for a chat, listening to a podcast, volunteering at a community event or going for a walk, how we feel impacts everything we do.

"During our panel discussion, I will be sharing some of my own experiences, and the tools that Farmstrong Scotland uses to help farmers and crofters Live Well, to Farm and Croft Well.”

The Future Farming Expo Scotland seeks to give farmers practical advice to meet the evolving needs of modern farming while flagging opportunities for growth.

During the event, panels of expert speakers will cover topics across eight ‘knowledge hubs’ chosen to spark engaging discussion and provide practical solutions for farmers dealing with the challenges of creating profitable, sustainable businesses. The knowledge hubs are: Business and Personal Resilience; Carbon and Soils; Arable; Livestock; Renewables and Energy; Diversification; Horticulture and Vertical Farming; and Robotics.

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