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    Students at heart of support for Yellow Wellies Mind Your Head Week 2024 campaigns

    15 February 2024

    Work by Harper Adams students has been at the heart of two campaigns urging people to talk about their mental health during the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) Mind Your Head Week 2024.

    The University’s Student Life Reps and Student Services department worked with Andy and Lynda Eadon, the parents of former student Len Eadon, and the Harper Adams Communications Team to create a video in support of the week – which urges people to take the time to discuss their mental health with others.

    Len graduated from his Rural Enterprise and Land Management degree at Harper Adams in 2021 and was a well-liked member of the University community.

    On January 1, 2022, Len took his own life, and in his memory, his parents have worked to raise funds and to ensure that people in farming communities feel they can talk about any issues they are facing.

    In 2023, Andy and Lynda travelled from John O’Groats to Lands End to encourage people to open up about their mental health.

    This week, they have been visiting livestock markets to promote the Big Farming Tea Break – a chance for people to take a moment, have a cup of tea, and open up through conversation.

    Their campaign was featured on BBC Midlands Today this week, where Andy explained: “Face-to-face conversations are so important, because if you have got someone in front of you, you are also reading their body language.”

    During the week, students at Harper Adams have also been encouraged to take part in the campaign – with the University’s Student Services team distributing teabags with messages about the campaign and its aims.

    Head of Student Services Joana da Silva said: “Working with Andy and Lynda, we’ve given out Big Farming Tea Break tea bags and biscuits to our students and across the campus.

    “We have also supplied biscuits to those tutors who are hosting tea-breaks in their course tutor sessions, as an opportunity to check in with each other. A simple cup of tea is a great way to pause, look around and reach out – and it’s opening up those conversations which makes a difference.”

     

     

     

    Meanwhile, another Harper Adams student has lent his own support to this year’s Mind Your Head campaign in collaboration with the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) charity, with an eye-catching video filmed at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

    In it Daniel Boomer, an Agriculture student from Northern Ireland, stands blindfolded at the Fair with flowers at his feet – holding a sign which notes 95 per cent of young farmers think mental health is the biggest hidden danger in the industry and encouraging people to either give him a hug or to take a flower if they agree.

    Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) Manager Stephanie Berkley said: “Filming took place on a particularly cold day but this didn’t stop the warmth of the crowd from shining through.

    “When we approached the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society with our idea, they were supportive and welcoming, but nothing prepared us for the reactions of those visitors who came up and shared the love and shared their stories.

    “For anyone who doubts that our farming community is truly special, please take 90 seconds, watch the video and be inspired.”

    You can watch the results here:

    Jo added: “What is important for me about our students’ support for both the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) and Len’s Light videos and wider campaigns is that it’s being driven by our students – they see the value in opening up those conversations and tell us that conversations about mental health with their peers are far easier to have.”

    Among those who have been supportingthe Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) Mind Your Head week is Adam Henson, the Countryfile presenter and Gloucestershire Farmer.

    He told Midlands Today: “I think mental health is being talked about in schools, at universities and colleges – including agricultural colleges and universities – in the workplace now, you have mental health first aiders.

    “I think in farming particularly, we perhaps haven’t got on top of it as quick as we should have should have done, but it is being talked about it more openly now, and there is a huge amount of press about it in all the farming magazines and radio shows, those sorts of things – we have covered it on Countryfile a number of times.

    "So it is coming to the forefront and campaigns like the Mind Your Head campaign are just one of the many tools that are hopefully going to alleviate some of the difficulties out there.

    “I have created a podcast series called Keeping on Track, with testimonials from farmers and students and medical experts, and a lot of the messages are:  once you have managed to talk about it, once you have opened up about the problems you may be facing, you realise you are not alone: there are hundreds if not thousands of farmers who are in a similar situation.

    “The well-known rugby referee Nigel Owens once said it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to open up and talk about your mental health – and you know, those are wise words.”

     

    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:

    www.yellowwellies.org/

    www.papyrus-uk.org/

    www.mind.org.uk

    www.studentminds.org.uk/

    www.studentsagainstdepression.org/

    fcn.org.uk/

    www.vetlife.org.uk/

    www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/

    www.youngminds.org.uk/

    www.umhan.com/pages/for-students

    www.mpft.nhs.uk/services/mental-health-community-services

    www.samaritans.org/ Samaritans 116 123 listening service 24/7

    www.nhs.uk/service-search/mental-health/find-an-urgent-mental-health-helpline

    www.sane.org.uk/

    www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

    www.kooth.com/

    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.

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