Sam and Emily Stables are a married couple who launched a charity supporting farmers experiencing mental health issues and isolation after Sam nearly took his own life.
Sam Stables dreamed of being a farmer but found it hard to cope with the isolation that came with the job. Working in a rural area, the demanding nature of his lonely and exhausting work took its toll on his wellbeing. Poor mental health is 46 per cent higher in farming than in other occupations, yet rural communities have less access to support.
Seeing no way out, the father-of-two prepared to take his own life while wife Emily was at work. But what sounded like a final “I love you” conversation with his mum led them to alerting a neighbour, who found Sam just in time.
Sam realised that it would have helped if there had been someone he could talk to about his mental health battles before he really began to struggle. So the couple joined forces to set up We Are Farming Minds, a charity which aims to break the stigma surrounding isolation, loneliness and mental health that is prevalent within the farming community. It also provides a dedicated helpline and training in mental health to people such as vets and feed reps.
Sam says: "It can be a very lonely job. I think Covid and lockdown has given the wider general British public an idea of what isolation really is and this is something farmers have suffered for generations. It certainly has a terrible effect on your mental health."
“I reached a crisis point. 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. It’s what farmers do – they just pull together and help one another and it’s what makes British farming so good. We all stick together no matter what.”
Emily adds: “I think if the stigma around mental health within farming hadn’t been so strong then Sam would have accessed help before things got to crisis point. The feedback we get has been amazing and to know we’re making that kind of impact is pretty special.”
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