Farming charity RABI has launched two new support services, in response to findings of its Big Farming Survey on the mental wellbeing of the farming industry.
The charity’s survey findings, published last year, found that over a third of farming people are probably or possibly depressed. The pig farming, in the midst at the time of the ongoing crisis, was the worst affected sector, with 47% of respondents saying they were either probably or possibly depressed – the highest figure in the survey.
RABI said its proactive response focuses on providing early, preventative wellbeing support for farming people.
A free, confidential in-person counselling is being delivered by BACP accredited counsellors. Anyone feeling they could benefit from talking to a professional can access via RABI’s 24/7 helpline on 0800 188 4444.
Clinical or GP referrals are not necessary, with counsellors responding to initial requests for support within 24 hours.
Counselling sessions can take place face-to-face, by telephone or video conferencing and are tailored and led by each individual.
RABI is also launching the first suite of accredited/certified mental health training tailored for the farming sector. The training provides a valuable tool for the agricultural community to help them feel comfortable talking about how they are feeling.
A unique feature of the training is the provision of aftercare for trainees. All who receive training will have access to ongoing support, so no one shoulders the weight of difficult conversations alone.
Complement existing schemes
RABI’s head of partnerships, Suzy Deeley, said the new in-person mental health counselling and farming-focused mental health training initiatives will complement existing schemes. Both services can be easily and consistently accessed by the farming community.
“All of the counsellors providing support have been selected for a combination of their clinical expertise and their background, engagement or interest in farming and rural communities,” she said.
“It’s vital they have the right specialist experience and are committed to our community with an understanding of the complex challenges farming people face. Ongoing counsellor training will ensure farming people are properly supported when they face issues impacting the sector.”
She said the charity was increasingly being approached by organisations and individuals who want to develop the skills to open conversations around mental health with friends, colleagues, customers and clients.
“This training will equip trainees with the tools to start conversations about wellbeing with confidence,” she added.
“It’s important that people feel comfortable talking about mental health. To do so, they need to know there’s an opportunity to discuss their experiences and gain further advice whenever they may need to,” says Ms Deeley.
“Having access to professional support helps to remove the pressure of responsibility on the individual and will encourage more people within the community to take-up the training, and to help normalise the conversation.”
Both services are being delivered in partnership with Red Umbrella, a not-for-profit specialist provider of accredited mental health counselling, mental health training and aftercare support.