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    Listen again: Harper Team are “Keeping on Track” in Mental Health Podcast with Adam Henson for Team Doctor

    10 October 2023

    A podcast series curated by Adam Henson for the initiative, Team Doctor to raise awareness and recognise mental health within the farming and agriculture sector has featured three members of the Harper Adams community

    The series began earlier this year, covering topics from loneliness and isolation, developing a healthy work-life balance, and coping techniques to recognising the signs of poor mental health in yourself and others.

    Among those who have been invited to take part in the series are three members of the Harper Adams community – Senior Lecturer and Placement Manager for Agriculture Terry Pickthall and Agriculture students, Daniel Boomer and Tom York.

    Daniel and Tom, who are both ambassadors for the Farm Safety Foundation – also known as Yellow Wellies – discussed their personal experiences with mental health, particularly during their work placements and how they were able to work through them, despite the challenges they faced.


    Daniel said: “It’s the diversity of the industry [that I love] – every day is a different day, every day has its new challenges. There’s always a problem – it’s not farming if there’s not a problem every day – it’s never easy and I think the fact you can go out and breathe the fresh air, […] and seeing the process from rearing an animal to the finish product, you get that pride.”

    Daniel’s story goes back to his placement, based in rural Derbyshire, which was a considerable distance away from any opportunity to socialise – with opportunities also hindered greatly by the Covid-19 pandemic. He battled the challenges of being isolated in his flat and struggling to have a healthy work-life balance.

    He added: “Working 12-14 hours a day, it was a very isolated life during that year of Covid – a lot of people had suffered in the same way as me, and I’m quite a reluctant person to actually speak about it but now, given the circumstances of these past couple of years, I feel we do need to talk about it because it had a tremendous mental health effect on me.”

    In the same episode, we also hear from Tom about his experience during his farm placement in college - when he was just 16 years old. Like Daniel, some of his struggles with mental health at that time stemmed from isolation during his placement, with other factors including bereavement and a recently diagnosed neurodivergent condition.

    “I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, a condition I had lived with my whole life and undiagnosed for 20 years of it. My ADHD causes me to have very dysregulated emotions, which has led me to have my own struggles with mental health throughout my life, especially when working within Agriculture.

    “Following many unfortunate losses in my life, including that of my mother and a best friend, i have participated in lots of charity fundraising to try and give my bit back.

    “Following the success of the RAG week in March at Harper, I was approached by Team Doctor and asked if I'd feature on this podcast to share my experiences and offer support and guidance to those listening who may resonate with myself.”



    Tom has been a driving force in raising awareness for mental health at Harper Adams, including the organisation of a charity football tournament earlier this year, so he was very much onboard for getting involved in the podcast.

    “I'm glad that through the support of my friends and family, I have been given a platform to speak on. I am so fortunate that I can share my experiences, and one that I will continue to utilise for the foreseeable future. So many are not so fortunate, but I hope that through this podcast those who are struggling, can seek support and realise that they aren't alone in their battle.

    “Everyone has mental health, poor or good. One person's struggles may not be another. In that sense, there isn't a 'guide' or a 'textbook' that people can use to help them with their battles, which is why so many people stay quiet, because they feel incurable.

    “I hope that by our constant efforts in raising awareness, light will be shed on the struggles that so many face, but also show to those who are struggling, that there is support out there, and what may feel like a never-ending spiral, won't last forever.”

    For Terry, this isn’t the first campaign he has been involved with to raise awareness for mental health – he has spoken openly about his life-long mental-health issues, and also works as a proud volunteer for his local branch of the Farming Community Network.


    He said: “I live with a life-long mental-health disability that results in me experiencing periods of severe anxiety and depression. It has taken me well into my 40’s to confront this as a long-term health problem that I have to live with and manage – and only after it has had a serious impact on me, my family and my career.

    “Thankfully, I have received a lot of advice, care and support from family, friends, colleagues and professionals that has seen me develop a toolkit of skills to be able to lead a largely full and happy life, alongside recognising the triggers and how to deal with the bad days. Unfortunately, speaking up and asking for help is not always easy, nor is finding out what support is available or how it can be accessed.  

    “There is a still a real stigma around poor mental health and talking about it, especially in the farming industry. It’s very sadly claiming people’s lives; suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under 50.

    “The more we can do to raise awareness that periods of poor mental health will pass and that there are things we can all do to get through moments of crisis, no matter how serious they may be, the better.

    “One thing I have derived real comfort from is trying to help others who are struggling like I have. I was first approached by the brilliant Stephanie Berkeley at the Farm Safety Foundation to take part in her annual #MindYourHead campaign in 2022.

    “I recorded a video about my experiences of poor mental health and the support and treatment I have received. If my video helped one person, I would have felt it was more than worthwhile.

    “I was overjoyed that it ended up helping a lot of people, many of whom contacted me with stories about their own challenges and how me speaking up had helped them feel able to tell others about it.

    “This has inspired me to keep talking and help Harper Adams support Adam Henson’s “Team Doctor” initiative, which will hopefully spread these important messages to an even wider audience.

    “There is lots of good work going on to support folk struggling with their mental health, both on-campus amongst our own students at Harper Adams and in the wider farming community through organisations like Yellow Wellies, RABI and the FCN.

    “There is, however, still much to be done, so it’s great that high-profile folk like Adam, whose passion for talking about his life in farming has made him a household name, are lending their name and support to this vital cause.”

    World Mental Health Day has everyone talking at Harper Adams, from podcasts to wellbeing support events on campus.

    To mark the day, the Harper community are coming together for a Tea and Talk session, organised by the Wellbeing team, to highlight the support available for staff and students at Harper Adams – with the opportunity to get crafty with clay tile making.

    Our Student Services team, Student Life Reps and the Eadons have also been working hard to bring Len's Day to Harper.

    Join us on Saturday 14 October in the Soil hall for Len's Day for the event, which will include a fit for farming challenge, a tug of war competition as well as a talk from Andy Eadon, the father of former Harper student Len Eadon who sadly died by suicide in 2022.

    It would be amazing to see as many of our you as possible supporting this amazing family in the work they are doing to bring about positive mental health and help remove the stigma, so common among the rural communities and our own student community.


    Help for Harper Adams staff

    Harper Adams University works with Health Assured to provide an enhanced Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

    The programme allows employees to directly access counselling, legal information and advice on debt, work, lifestyle addictions and relationships.

    Contact details are shared with employees every week through an internal newsletter. Employees also receive wellbeing support from line managers and our Chaplaincy, HR and Mental Health First Aid teams; in addition to occupational health services provided by Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust.

    Help for Harper Adams students 

    We all have mental health and we encourage our students to reach out if they are experiencing any difficulties. 

    It’s important to look after our mental health just as we do our physical wellbeing. You may be a student at the start or end of your student journey, or somewhere in between, or a member of the wider university community. You may feel you can talk to friends, your course team, colleagues and or your GP but the important thing to remember is no problem is too small and it can help to talk things through. 

     It is never too late to let someone know how you are feeling and asking for help. At University, specialist support can be offered via self-referral to the wellbeing team, by accessing the Student Assistance Programme or talking to one of the Mental Health First Aiders. 

    Further details can be found here

    Sometimes, online can be a good place to start to find out what other support is out there, and there is plenty: - 24/7 

     Samaritans 116 123 listening service 24/7 



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