Feltwell ex-farmer Dan Goodwin who almost took his own life shares his story after industry return
A Feltwell 24-year-old who battled depression and almost took his own life has spoken out about the ‘epidemic’ of mental health issues within the agriculture industry.
Dan Goodwin, who grew up in Bury St Edmunds, has worked in agriculture since he was 14 and knows first-hand the problems workers face due to growing pressures of Brexit, climate change and rising costs.
And Dan is not alone. The latest survey by non-profit charity Yellow Wellies revealed 92 per cent of UK farmers under 40 say mental health is one of the biggest hidden problems they face today.
Now thriving in his role within local company Harrowden Turf, Dan is celebrating a year back in the industry after taking a mental health break in 2018.
“I was still studying at my local agriculture college doing my diplomas at the time and some days were good, some days were bad,” said Dan.
“I felt I had no one to go to to ask for any help and that is what spurred me on to trying to take my own life.
“I was just a normal guy, everyone would ask me ‘Dan how are you?’ and I would say ‘yep, fine’ but deep down I wasn’t. That is the stigma we have now in the industry,” he added.
Taking his three-year break wasn’t easy for Dan, who had years of experience in the industry and loved working on farms.
However, the isolation and loneliness of farming life, as well as the pressure and lack of free time, became too much for the 24-year-old.
“A lot of farms, especially in Suffolk, are very small. Sometimes that team is not always that close or they are an older generation,” Dan said.
“The problem is the older generation have the mindset of, ‘it’s fine, just carry on with it’ and that is where we have got to try and build on it.”
During his break Dan sought medical help and began taking medication. After two months he secured a job in a Bury St Edmunds pub where he worked throughout lockdown.
In May 2021, Dan returned to the industry with a job at a Woodbridge farm. He explained he felt he ‘needed’ to go back and remained drawn to a career in agriculture.
“I was never able to get out of the industry fully, I was always in the countryside doing things with my mates," he said.
"It's something I have loved to do all my life and I have done it all my life. I felt I needed to go back."
Now enjoying his job with Harrowden Turf, a company he has praised highly for its mental health support and understanding, and working as an ambassador for Yellow Wellies, a non-profit charity run by the NFU, Dan is keen to help others in his situation.
He gives talks to students in agriculture colleges and shares charity campaigns, including the mental health focussed Mind Your Head week, on social media.
Of Yellow Wellies, Dan said: “They saw there's been a mental health problem within farming so they made the Mind Your Head campaign week dedicated to mental health in farming.
"It has had an amazing response from people and it's now recommended and recognised within the industry.
“Yellow Wellies came to me when I was in the darkest stages I’ve ever been in and I am very grateful for their manager Steph who helped me along and asked me to join the ambassador team," he added.
While Dan is positive about the future of the industry with campaigns like Mind Your Head appearing, he also knows more needs to be done to raise mental health awareness amongst workers.
“There are more deaths within agriculture than any other industry, including the armed forces,” Dan said.
“If you start losing your farmers you’re going to start struggling to get British produce which is something important in the eyes of the British public now.
“But there are so many things within the industry which will give you help and support now which is amazing, and something very close to my heart.”
For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.