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LRSN features in Oxford Farming Conference video

LRSN has helped to promote mental health awareness in a video produced for this year's Oxford Farming Conference.

LRSN staff members Alison Twiddy and Gilly Steel, joined forces with local vet Molly McKay to speak to Sarah Mukherjee, an OFC director, chief executive of the Crop Protection Association and former BBC environment correspondent when she visited Louth Livestock Market last November.

The short film produced by Sarah featured rural mental health issues and she spoke to Dr Peter Aitken of Devon NHS Partnership Trust who discussed the risk factors that farmers and farmworkers face, particularly exacerbated by isolation and lone-working. Former chief executive of the Farming Community Network, Charles Smith, spoke about the additional pressures farmers and their families face because of the increasing volume of paperwork and the complex nature of legislation surrounding farming that they often don't feel qualified to engage in.

Cambridgeshire farmer, Tom Martin, best known for his "Facetime a Farmer" project, which encourages young people from non-farming backgrounds to become involved in agriculture from the classroom, talked about the negative side of social media - the intimidating, offensive and threatening behaviour that some farmers face from activists. Tom's advice if you are being targeted by trolls? Step out of social media - you don't need to suffer for your art.

HSE stats say that there is more than one suicide a week in the agricultural sector, and Sarah spoke to Molly McKay at Louth Market about the pressures affecting farmers, including in the last year, the weather, Brexit and the ongoing issues of livestock prices, particularly in the beef sector. LRSN's Gilly Steel, our Health and Wellbeing Lead and Project Manager, Alison Twiddy are pictured with Molly (above). Gilly and Alison both spoke about the increasing number of families who come to us with some sort of mental health issue - over two thirds currently are suffering from stress, anxiety or more serious mental health problems. Gilly commented that LRSN's presence at the markets means that we are easily accessible and offer a friendly face to talk to and trust. 

LRSN's nurse Heather Dawes is also featured giving a local farmer a health check. Sometimes, the physical health checks can generate a chat about mental health and Alison said that farmers and their families are recognising that they are experiencing more problems, but that their ability and willingness to talk about them is increasing.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Sarah Mukherjee and the Oxford Farming Conference team for featuring mental health as part of this year's conference programme and for talking to LRSN about the issues we face and the services we offer. 

Visit the Oxford Farming Conference website for more on this year's proceedings, including the key note speeches, seated yoga and a fresh approach to many of the issues facing farming and horticulture.