by David Bean

The inquiry into rural mental health, being run by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, has closed its call for evidence. The Countryside Alliance has submitted an extensive and detailed response, informed by the replies to our survey run over Christmas.

We are extremely grateful to over 700 people who took the time to inform us, anonymously, of their experiences and impressions of mental health issues within rural communities. The sheer volume of responses we received serves to underscore the issue’s severity. Although to ensure anonymity we took no personal details so cannot thank them directly, we want to assure everyone who took part that their stories have been respectfully heard and are being passed on.

Once the Committee has published our evidence and we can refer to our full submission we will have much more to say, but for the time being we can share that we found significant evidence of concern both about rural mental health in general and the government’s provision of help to those who need it. Areas highlighted especially include the provision, visibility and funding for services in areas of sparser population, and the damage to mental health caused by growing social pressures formed in ignorance of the rural way of life, propagated through media and exacerbated by instances of ideologically motivated harassment.

The problem that this inquiry and our survey has identified is important. Solving it stands to make rural life a great deal better.

Thank you again to everyone who took part in the survey. Your contribution will count.

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