by David Bean

The Countryside Alliance wants to hear from you about any challenges you or a family member has faced in accessing mental health support in rural communities. Your confidential responses will help us to put your voice forward as part of our submission to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into rural mental health. The investigation is seeking evidence on the mental health challenge within rural communities, including the adequacy of care services available.

We have put together a short survey and want to hear from individuals who have experience of mental health challenges in rural communities. All submissions will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

The Committee wants to form a broad overview of the issue, to inform recommendations to the government on how it can improve mental health provision and outcomes in rural areas. We appreciate the critical importance to everyone of looking after their mental health and having the opportunity to access high-quality care when they need it, but we recognise that this is one of many areas in which rural communities can be under-served.

The focus of the inquiry is on agriculture, but we know the challenge extends further. Taking just one example, gamekeepers, we know that the isolation and loneliness they and their families often face can be especially difficult. It is only exacerbated by the abuse they can suffer, including over social media, from animal rights activists who oppose the sector. Scotland’s Rural Affairs Minister said in January that the evidence he had been shown of gamekeeper harassment had left him “appalled”.

If you have been affected by or have knowledge of the issues this inquiry is seeking to address, we would encourage you to complete our survey or submit a response direct to the Committee. 

Support

The Farm Safety Foundation, an award-winning charity dedicated to supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of the UK’s farmers, has provided an incredibly helpful directory and information booklet in conjunction with The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Some of the most important contacts who can provide help, including the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust, Tir Dewi and the National Rural Mental Health Forum, can be located here in this detailed directory.

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