‘Unearthing Farming Lives” Looking At Mental Health In The Farming Community

A new film looking at mental health in the farming community, called “Unearthing Farming Lives” is currently “in the making”.

The production is being directed and released by Pink Sphynx Media and is the brainchild of several organisations in the North East of Scotland: NFU Scotland, Robert Gordon’s University, Samaritans and Aberdeenshire Council. The main film will be launched and available for viewing in late May/early June, which will fit in well with the farming calendar.

The purpose for creating the film is to highlight the hidden mental health issues which exist within the farming, and wider agricultural industry, to a wide range of audiences.  The target audience includes fellow farmers and their staff as well as the wider agricultural supply sector including vets, bankers, lawyers, accountants, auctioneers and those supplying the likes of agricultural machinery, animal feed, fertiliser, seed and grain. Additionally, there is a need to ensure this film, and the messages within, are heard and viewed by education establishments: universities, colleges, secondary and primary schools, as well as those involved within the political arena.

NFU Scotland’s North East Regional Chair, Alan Simpson, welcomed the launch of the trailer and said: “Many of us are well aware of fellow farmers who are silently suffering from mental health challenges. The stress and strains suffered by themselves, and sometimes their loved ones too, is unbelievable. We need to help the farming community by more outwardly promoting the message that it is brave to speak out and ask for support. There are many organisations and experts who are available to help, but the sufferer needs to find a way to summon up courage to ask for their aid. This film will help shine a light upon the mental health status of our farming industry.”
Samaritans’ Aberdeen Director, Elaine Mottram added: “We are very pleased to be involved in this collaborative venture to raise awareness of the importance of emotional health and wellbeing in the farming community. Samaritans are here 24/7 on freephone 116123 for anyone feeling distressed. We urge those who might need us not to wait until they are in a crisis but to call so that we can support them and hopefully help prevent a crisis.”  
NFUS North East Regional Manager, Lorna Paterson explained: “By raising awareness and focusing upon some of the common mental health issues, and observing the participants within the film, it is hoped that audience members will quickly recognise many of the symptoms described, as well as better understand some of the causes which create these symptoms. The film will draw upon the participants’ experiences, and most importantly, help guide viewers on where and how to access help if they are aware of colleagues who are suffering, or indeed if they themselves require support. By ensuring this film reaches schools, we hope to help inform young people, and so destigmatise the negativity associated with admitting to depressive thoughts and emotions.”
Stephanie Morrison, Lecturer in Public Health at Robert Gordon University said: “The opportunity to collaborate with NFU Scotland and the farming community regarding the importance of good mental health and wellbeing is a key message of the film recognising how communities and connection to others are an important source to sustain mental health and wellbeing.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s Cultural Development Officer for the Live Life Arts & Heritage Team Leader, Sheila Waterhouse said: “This film will help set the scene for some practical, arts-related farming projects which we plan to launch in tandem with NFU Scotland in July. These will help address mental health issues for the agricultural and wider rural sector.”
Erin Smith, Founder of Pink Sphynx Media added: “I am very grateful to have been chosen to work with the team on such an important subject.  I have found this film-making experience highly interesting, educational, insightful and enjoyable.  After visiting the local farms and meeting NFU Scotland members, I have really had my
eyes opened to just how important it is for this message to get out to the wider communities.”