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Mental Health Awareness Week: Alumna plans ball in support of Mind Your Head campaign

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10 May 2022

Harper Adams graduate Caitlin Riddell is planning a charity ball in aid of the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) on Saturday 29th October following her own battle with mental health whilst working in the agricultural industry four years ago.

Taking place at the Showfield, Wooler, Northumberland, thanks to the kind support of Mr and Mrs Davidson and Lilburn Estate, the aim of the Mind Your Head Charity Ball is to raise awareness of the huge mental health crisis within agriculture, as well as raise funds for an invaluable charity offering support to those who are struggling. In order to raise as much money as possible, Caitlin is welcoming donations and support from anyone who would like to get involved.

“As an industry, agriculture has one of the highest rates of mental health problems and suicide, particularly in young men,” says Caitlin, from Wooler. “Farmers are under so much pressure – financially, environmentally, family pressures, through legislation and even the public’s perception of agriculture. Along with long hours, lone working, and very little time off the farm, it can leave people in a desperate situation and it’s up to us all to pull together and tackle this.”

The Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) is the charity behind the Mind Your Head campaign which was established to preserve and protect the mental well-being of young farmers and young people moving into agriculture. In its annual tracker research conducted in October last year, 92% of farmers under the age of 40 cited poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today. A 10% increase since 2018. The Office of National Statistics registered 102 suicides in England and Wales by people working in the agricultural-related trades in 2019.

Caitlin said: “The figures are devastating, and the rate at which they are increasing is frightening. Despite mental health awareness having come a long way, there is still some stigma attached to it, especially in farming. So often farmers feel they must live up to the stereotype of being tough and resilient which prevents them from seeking help.

“I know first-hand how easy it is to bulldoze on and pretend everything is fine. Until it’s not. These charities are a lifeline for a lot of people, and if this event can help spread the message that it’s okay not to be okay and encourage even one person to reach out or start a conversation, then it’s a step in the right direction.

 “It’s not just about encouraging those that are struggling to ask for help, it’s also about raising awareness of how people can look out for one another,” adds Caitlin. “We often hear the phrase ‘I didn’t know', and that is why it’s so important for people to be better informed of the signs of mental health problems.”

If you would like to make a donation or get involved with the event in any way, contact Caitlin at  mindyourheadball@hotmail.com

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