The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) has today (Tuesday, February 22) launched ‘’, an interactive website with the purpose of helping the farming community deal with stress.

The website, which is entirely confidential, was developed with the help of key agricultural partners including Rural Support, The Farm Safety Partnership and the Workplace Health and Leadership Group, Northern Ireland.

As a first step on the website users can opt to complete WHO-5, an internationally recognised questionnaire developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The questionnaire poses five short questions that will establish the level of stress being personally experienced by the user.

The second step on the site has been specifically designed for the local farming community and, based on information provided by the user, aims to identify specific stressors impacting on the individual.

The site will then offer a wide range of information and resources, including the details of organisations who can offer free, confidential support and help.

It also provides a one-stop list of contact details of organisations involved in the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland.

“We have developed the FarminMind bespoke site to help our local agri-food community identify and deal with stress,” said HSENI chief executive Robert Kidd.

“The farming community has gone through enormous change and transformation in recent years. Demands on our agri-food industry are higher than ever before and can often lead to increased stress levels for our farmers and their families.

“The website provides instant, private and convenient help. I would encourage all adults in our farming community to spend a few minutes and explore the benefits the site offers.”

Farmers dealing with stress

This is not the first initiative announced this month to help Northern Irish farmers deal with stress. Last week (February 17), Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots announced a series of free workshops to help poultry keepers cope with the pressures of farming.

The poultry sector, Poots said, faces pressure at the moment due to the ongoing bird flu outbreak, which is the largest-ever outbreak that Northern Ireland – and the EU and the UK – has ever experienced.

“Challenges like disease outbreaks can have an impact on anyone’s mental health. We believe that in order to be able to handle challenges like this, a high level of mental fitness is essential,” said Poots.

Another sector facing continual challenges at the moment is the pig sectors and, a survey of English and Welsh farmers in 2020 showed that the specialist pigs sector was already the farming sector with the poorest overall mental health and the highest levels of stress.

High levels of stress are hazardous around the farm, as well as negative impactors to physical and mental health. Researches from the University of Aberdeen found that lapses in situation awareness, related to stress and fatigue, were the main contributory factor in farming accidents.