How a Herefordshire farmer is tackling the industry’s mental health epidemic

One Herefordshire man is supporting the country’s farmers experiencing mental illness and isolation, after receiving almost £140,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest of community activity in the UK.

Sam Stables, from Hereford, found it hard to cope with the isolation that came with the nature of his job as a farmer. Working in a rural area and the demanding nature of his work took its toll on Sam’s own mental health. After dealing with his own challenges, he joined forces with his wife and decided to set up We Are Farming Minds, a mental health charity which aims to break the stigma surrounding isolation, loneliness and mental health that is prevalent within the farming community.

The vital funding will be used by the charity to provide mental health training to vets and farming sales reps to learn how to spot the signs of mental illness when visiting farmers and how to offer support. We Are Farming Minds will also develop one of the nation’s first farmer specific 24-hour helplines, as well as a counselling service and social event, to help reduce the isolation felt by many farmers living and working in rural areas.

Farmer and Co-Founder of We Are Farming Minds, Sam Stables, said: “We launched We Are Farming Minds after I reached crisis point with my own mental health. I had reached a point in my life where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and after a, thankfully, failed attempt to end my life, I saw the light. With the support from my wife, we decided to create a charity that offered farmers like me a judgement free space.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to continue our charity and hope to reach more than 500 farmers through offering a helpline and counselling service, as well as signposting to professional services.”

In a recent study conducted by the Farm Safety Foundation[i] it found that almost nine in ten (88%) farmers aged under 40 felt that poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem faced by farmers today. With the crucial National Lottery funding received, We Are Farming Minds is working to address mental health in the farming industry.

Sam’s wife and Co-Founder of We Are Farming Minds, Emily Stables, added: “Seeing the toll farming took on Sam’s mental health drove us to create a charity that addresses the isolation and loneliness of the job. Mental health still has a stigma attached to it in the farming community and we want to show that it’s ok to talk. We want to help people before they reach crisis point.”

We Are Farming Minds is one of 230 charities and community groups across the West Midlands to be awarded almost £7.5 million of National Lottery funding in the past quarter*.

It was also announced today that almost £65 million has been distributed to nearly 2,000 community organisations across England in the past three months*.

Claire Jopling, Senior Head of Funding for the Midlands at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this vital funding will have a huge impact on farmers’ lives, and their families, across Herefordshire and beyond, by tackling mental health stigmas in the farming community. This last year has been incredibly challenging for communities and it’s inspiring to hear how groups, like We Are Farming Minds, are a lifeline to so many and are working hard to address important issues using their own lived experiences. As we all look to the future, we’re excited to see how local groups will use this funding to further support their communities to prosper and thrive.”

This announcement comes shortly after The National Lottery Community Fund released a new report, Putting Communities First, which sets out the impact National Lottery funding has had on communities across the UK over the last five years.

The report shows that on average 5.2 million people across the country a year were supported by National Lottery-funded projects, with 97% of grant holders reporting improvements in their participants’ mental health, self-esteem, and social contact.

During the pandemic, in 2020 alone, The National Lottery Community Fund distributed almost £1 billion to charities and community organisations across the UK.

To find out more visit

To find out more about Sam Stables’ win at the 2020 BFA awards, click here.