Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport
The underlying reasons for poor mental health among the farming and crofting community lies in the unique social, environmental and economic challenges of rural food production, therefore an intervention that is targeted towards helping farmers and crofters cope with these issues may be more acceptable and beneficial.
Dr Stephen, a behavioural scientist, said: “There are always challenges in this sector and farmers and crofters are used to having to cope, often by themselves. At times, it can feel overwhelming. It’s not clear what support is available and it’s not always easy to ask for help.
“This project is looking at what types of support farmers and crofters could benefit from, and how this could be adapted to suit them best. We’re interested in the wider farming and crofting communities – not just owners but farm workers and family members, whether the farm or croft is large or small.
“We’re thinking about how to get in early, to prevent things getting worse, how to help farming and crofting people to recognise when they are struggling in themselves, and what ‘tools’ help them to turn things around. We would also like to hear from people from farming and crofting communities who understand what it feels like to struggle. We’d like to include people who don’t usually pick up the phone to ask for help.”
Funded by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office (CSO), the new study has received support from partners including the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Support in Mind Scotland, The National Rural Mental Health Forum, and NHS Highland.
Running until June 2022, the research will be conducted in the Highlands and Shetland Islands and the research team are appealing for volunteers within these areas who may be interested in participating. All farm workers, unpaid workers and family members who are currently experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, are invited to participate. They will receive either an online-based psychological therapy, a social and emotional support service, or a combination of both, for up to eight weeks.