Kelvin Fletcher: Star urges people not to ‘suffer in silence’ due to ‘bad’ condition

Kelvin Fletcher compares cleaning a sheep's poo to Strictly

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In the final episode of the BBC series, Kelvin and his wife Liz Marsland reflect on all that has changed throughout their year on the farm. However, the pair soon realise that their social life has taken a worrying knock, and decide to host a farm-warming party for neighbours and villagers in the surrounding area. It was through getting to know people in the area that Kelvin has also realised how bad mental health can affect farmers. So much so that the star is supporting a new campaign to try and encourage farmers and agricultural workers to not “suffer in silence”.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were a total of 44 suicides registered in England and Wales of those working in the farming and agricultural industry in 2020.

In light of these statistics, the Farm Safety Foundation, also known as Yellow Wellies, began the Mind Your Head campaign which ran from February 14 to February 18.

The foundation said a recent study showed that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern and are having a direct impact on safety on farms.

In addition, a survey of 450 farmers under the age of 40 found that a whopping 92 percent suggested poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today – up from 82 percent in 2018.

Having been “welcomed so warmly” by the farming community, Kelvin felt strongly about the cause, as he had “no idea” that the problem had become so bad.

“I feel really privileged to have been welcomed so warmly by the farming community, who have supported me so much since I started my farm last year,” he said.

“Before joining farming, I had no idea the community was so heavily impacted by bad mental health.

“Campaigns like Mind Your Head are so important if we’re going to chip away at the stigma that surrounds mental illness in the industry.”

Although the star didn’t elaborate on the state of his own experiences with mental health, he encouraged everyone to look out for each other’s mental welfare.

Kelvin added: “If one person reads about Mind Your Head and decides to reach out or to check in on a loved one, that’s a step in the right direction.

“Please, be that person and start the conversation. You never know how much it could mean to someone struggling silently.”

With modern day pressures such as social media and the illusion of a “perfect” life, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation Stephanie Berkeley added that the aim of the campaign was to “deal with the issue of poor mental health head on”.

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She added: “Life isn’t always as it seems, we don’t post on social media about the days that we wished we didn’t get out of bed or the days we didn’t feel like it.

“My father always advised me to never judge anyone unless you walked in their shoes, these are words that I live by, as it is important to know what is really going on behind the smile, or even their grumpy demeanour.

“Many living and working in rural communities are suffering and doing so in silence. As an industry, it’s time to ease the pressure, stop expecting people to be perfect and start talking openly about feelings with people you trust.”

Everyone during their lifetime will undoubtedly suffer from some form of mental health. And in a recent study published by the Lancet-World Psychiatric Association Commission, a team of 25 experts from 11 countries estimates that around five percent of the adult population around the world in any year is living with depression.

At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Studies indicate 70-80 percent of people who die by suicide in high-income countries – and around half of those in low and middle-income countries – suffer from mental illness, of which depression is the most common cause.

As a result of the February 2022 report, the author’s are calling for a “whole-of-society response to reducing the global burden of depression”, especially since the pandemic has created additional challenges for everyone.

The National Institute of Mental Health explains that depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

If any of the following symptoms have persisted for two weeks or more, it is advised to seek a medical opinion. It is also important to remember that depression can be treated through therapies and drugs:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.

For confidential support, aall 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours. Alternatively you can text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19.

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