We are Farming Minds
2039. Sam Stables
2040. Emily Stables
Sam and Emily Stables, from Hereford, founded ‘We Are Farming Minds’ to break the stigma of mental health and loneliness in the agricultural community after Sam’s own suicide attempt.
Sam’s ambition had always been to become a farmer, but he struggled with the isolation that often comes with the job. Poor mental health is estimated to be 46% higher in farming than in other occupations, with the suicide rate being one of the highest in any industry.
Sam found that talking helped his recovery and felt that if there had been somebody to speak to about his worries, he may have been able to seek help before reaching a crisis point. So, in September 2020, Sam and his wife Emily set up ‘We Are Farming Minds’ to help others experiencing a similar situation. The charity runs a befriending service and a dedicated 24-hour helpline which is staffed by trained volunteers, and provides funding for farmers to access professional counselling services.
Currently focused in Herefordshire, the couple also work closely with other rural support groups in the rest of the UK to help ensure the farming community are getting the support they need. They also run a range of free social events throughout the year which include an Over 50’s monthly meet, a support group for women in farming and family social events, all of which help break the isolation that can often be felt in farming.
The award for Sam and Emily comes during ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’, part of a campaign to increase people’s awareness and understanding of mental health issues and to provide helpful information and resources.
In a personal letter to Sam and Emily, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“I was moved to hear of Sam’s struggle with mental health and how you are coming through it together. The fact you have turned your experience into a lifeline for farmers in Herefordshire and across the country is truly inspiring.
“Through your events and befriending services, you are connecting hundreds of people who live and work in rural communities, showing that they are not alone. And for those in need, you are helping farmers to access professional counselling services and providing a 24/7 helpline.
“Together, you are making a real difference – helping to break the stigma around mental health in farming and changing people’s lives for the better.”
Mark Spencer MP, Farming Minister, said:
“Farming is all about providing for others, but it is crucial to remember that there is no shame in seeking help for yourself.
“I want to commend the invaluable work being done by Sam and Emily with ‘We Are Farming Minds’ to break the stigma of mental health and loneliness in our agricultural communities.”
The Rt Hon Jesse Norman, Sam and Emily’s local MP, said:
“This is a fantastic initiative. ‘We are Farming Minds’ is one of the nation’s first farmer specific 24-hour helplines, and is already helping farmers all across the UK who are struggling with the mental health challenges that come with the demanding nature of their work and lives.
“I wish Sam and Emily the very best of luck, and wholeheartedly congratulate them on becoming the 2039th and 2040th Points of Light.”
Sam and Emily said:
“We feel very honoured to be receiving the Points of Light award. It’s amazing to be recognised for the hard work our charity does to support farmers and their mental health within the Herefordshire community. We hope that winning this award will help to raise the profile of the charity and encourage more people struggling to come forward and ask for help.”
See more about ‘We are Farming Minds’