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Farmers: Mental Health

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 151130, tabled on 7 June 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had discussions with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the (a) suicide rate and (b) general level of mental health among farmworkers in England.

Answered on

19 June 2018

Farmers can experience unique factors due to the nature of their work and lifestyle that may impact their mental health and wellbeing. We understand that farming can sometimes be a solitary pursuit and some farmers may be too proud to seek support when it is needed.

The government strategy on suicide has attempted to address these issues by ensuring that every local area has a multi-agency suicide prevention plan in place so that local services which may come into contact with people at risk of suicide, work together to implement tailored approaches to reducing suicides in their communities. Guidance issued by Public Health England advises local suicide prevention plans should target specific groups at risk of suicide, including farmers.

We are encouraged that the number of male suicides in England has reduced for the second consecutive year and the overall suicide rate is at its lowest since 2010, but there is much more we must do to ensure that everyone at risk of suicide has the help and support they need.

I regularly meet the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, the Farming Community Network and the Princes Countryside Trust who do excellent work supporting farmers in difficulties.

Defra also funds Action with Communities in Rural England which supports projects that tackle loneliness across the wider rural community.