Is mental health awareness training right for your farming business?

There has been a rise in mental health awareness courses available to businesses recently. We spoke to Alison Baker of Mind in Somerset to find out more and whether it should be considered for farming businesses.

What is mental health awareness training?

It provides an overview of mental health and its impact in the workplace. It’s not intended to make people mental health experts, but it does provide a starting point and encourages trainees to continually widen their understanding.

At Mind in Somerset, we offer a range of options from a one-hour session all the way through to the two-day mental health first aider course. There is no one-size-fits all approach, and we really like to base it on the needs of each business we support.

Whether it’s online or in-person, we always try to make the training as informal and interactive as possible. We like it to be an opportunity for people to learn from each other and reflect on their own experiences. It involves lots of work in small groups, videos, group discussion and reflection.

What topics are covered?

The depth of topics varies according to the length of training, but we always discuss what mental health is and isn’t, and the business impact of poor mental health. Building on this we look at what makes a mentally healthy workplace, spotting the signs of poor mental health in yourself and others and examining the relationship between stress and productivity. We also look at top tips for maintaining positive mental health and the five steps to mental wellbeing.

Why is mental health training important for businesses?

From a legal perspective, businesses are required to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace for employee’s mental health, just like physical health. But we’re seeing many businesses coming to us because they believe training will really benefit their employees.

In 2020, research carried out by Deloitte estimated poor mental health costs UK businesses £42 billion a year. This comes from a combination of staff absence and turnover, and presenteeism, where people are at work but not working to their full potential.

Ultimately, we all have mental health and changes in it can affect anyone. It’s estimated one in four adults in the UK has a mental health condition, so even if it's not affecting you, it's likely to be affecting people you know. We are really hoping that the increasing uptake of training helps reduce the stigma around poor mental health.

How would farming or rural businesses benefit?

There is plenty of research to indicate poor mental health is a significant issue in farming and rural communities. While there are many reasons for this, isolation is a big challenge. One of the benefits of mental health training is that it brings people together, and equips them with the tools to start talking more openly about mental health.

The stigma around poor mental health is something we see in all industries, but it can be a particular challenge in the farming industry. Again, we hope training reminds people that we all have mental health, and we all need to look after it. It’s not just about what we can do when people are suffering from poor mental health! 

Mental health training alone isn’t the silver bullet to solve mental ill health overnight, but it can be the start of a bigger change.

For more information on mental health training:


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