Support for students amid mental health struggles in young farmers

Emma Haley from the charity YANA with Suffolk Rural student Saffron Whitney and farming lecturer John Attridge

Emma Haley from the charity YANA with Suffolk Rural student Saffron Whitney and farming lecturer John Attridge - Credit: Suffolk New College

A college in Suffolk is giving support to agricultural students, after a national survey found 88% of young farmers rate poor mental health as the biggest problem facing them today.

John Attridge, farming lecturer at the Suffolk Rural Campus of Suffolk New College, said: “The stigma surrounding mental health within farming is definitely changing for the better.”

The college has just been visited by the charity YANA (You Are not Alone), which provides rural mental health support and practical advice across East Anglia. 

Emma Haley of YANA with Suffolk Rural students and farming lecturer John Attridge

Emma Haley of YANA with Suffolk Rural students Josh Crayston, Zoe Ellis, Oscar Howson, Saffron Whitney, Will Hall, and Ellen Fairy and farming lecturer John Attridge - Credit: Suffolk New College

YANA is planning further visits and will be talking to every student currently taking an agricultural course at Suffolk Rural (formerly Otley College). 

Mr Attridge said: "A survey conducted by the Farm Safety Foundation this year suggested that 88% of young farmers rate mental health as the biggest problem faced by farmers today.

"Therefore, we need to educate the next generation about this issue. Being involved in events like this can only serve to ensure that the farmers of tomorrow can help themselves and others today.”

Student Ellen Fairy, 16, from Debenham, who is on a level three farming course, said: “We were taught to look out for warning signs and talk to people at work – don’t just walk past them. This additional training has been very useful.”

Saffron Whitney,  also 16, from Hollesley, said: "The message I took away from this is to look out for each other at all times and also to realise that it’s OK to not be OK.”

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Emma Haley, charity manager for YANA, said: "We feel it is really important for us to chat to young people who want to work in the industry, to raise awareness of the role they can play supporting their own and others' wellbeing.

"They seemed really connected to what we were discussing and we are looking forward to coming back to talk with more students soon.”

YANA last visited the college in 2019, when they hosted a two-day mental health first aid course for 16 delegates from the rural sector.

The charity provides a confidential helpline, a fully funded counselling service for those over 18, and runs mental health first aid courses for anyone working in farming or other rural business in East Anglia. For details, visit its website.



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