Tom Ware

Young farmer Tom Ware took to social media to encourage others in the agricultural community to open up about their mental health struggles  after losing his friend and one-time colleague, Leonard Eadon, to suicide.

Eighteen months later, Tom’s ‘Just Talk Agri’ content on social media platforms has gained a large following and has been described by others as a ‘positive and safe environment’ for famers to share their challenges.

After losing his friend, Tom started out on a social media mission to break down the stigma surrounding mental well-being in agriculture. He had worked with Leonard during a harvest season in Lincolnshire, and admits he was badly affected by his death.

He wanted to build something positive so that people would take notice of the challenges within agriculture, so he posted a short video on Facebook.

The video provoked a good response from farmers, with others from across the country then joining in, sharing their own videos and messages: Just Talk Agri gained momentum.

“We gather videos from people who are both well-known farmers in the industry or ordinary farmers with their message to share the load and share their love. They can upload videos or photos to our pages for the wider audience to see,’’ says Tom.

It has started a movement, with people spreading the important message online.

“It is okay not to be okay and it is okay to talk, but most of all, it is important to listen,’’ says Tom, who has worked in agriculture since 2019 and had ties to the industry since childhood.

“Suicide in farming is no laughing matter and, unfortunately, it is a growing problem. Farming can be a lonely industry, which is where we come in to make sure that farmers know there are people there for them and that we are there for one another; for people to know that it is okay to speak out and get the help they need to make their life that little bit better.’’

Working in agriculture can be extremely difficult, with long hours, isolation and the growing stresses resulting from rising costs.

“That inevitably impacts on farmers’ mental health,’’ adds Tom.

He has formed alliances with the Farming Community Network (FCN) and the Yellow Wellies Mind Your Head campaign to promote mental health awareness among young farmers as well as older generations.

“We want to let them know that no one in the industry is alone and no one has to face the darkness alone.’’