Our Workforce Lead Kris Ambler has welcomed a new counselling service for farmers which will be provided by our accredited service Kooth using BACP members.
The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution is also launching an online wellbeing community as part of plans to evolve its services to better meet the changing needs of farming people.
Kris said: “We raised the issue of mental ill health and suicide in farming communities earlier this year, calling for greater investment in rural areas.
“We’re delighted then to see the launch of this new RABI initiative, that will bring counselling support to those most at need.
“Service users can feel assured that these BACP accredited services meet the highest standards, with practitioners that are highly qualified and experienced to provide support.”
Alicia Chivers, RABI’s chief executive, said: “We know farmers have continued to face exceptionally difficult times.
“Managing mental wellbeing and maintaining good mental health has emerged as one of the most significant issues facing our sector, which is already known for its higher than average levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and suicide.
“Our aim is to make a real difference to the farming community that RABI has been dedicated to for the past 160 years. We believe early intervention and one-to-one support are essential to ensuring good mental health and tackling the root causes of poor wellbeing.
"We believe providing confidential, easily accessible, free online support can make a real difference to a wide audience.”
The websites include dedicated farmer-friendly content that addresses farming sector specific challenges such as loneliness, Brexit anxiety, animal health, crop disease and farm debt.
Users will be able to anonymously access farmer-specific and more generic content, as well as a wealth of discussion boards, case studies and messaging functions. There are many tools, such as a journal to record and track progress against personal goals, as well as tips and articles.
In addition, all users can access one-to-one counselling support from our members through a chat function.
Alicia added: “No one should take mental wellbeing for granted.
"We believe offering practical support through these sites is a constructive and hugely positive step forwards. It forms a key aspect of RABI’s ambitious five-year strategy that will extend our offering to a broader audience.
"We understand the issues farmers face and really care about finding and developing tools that can assist. Our role is to offer encouragement so people can access the services they need, early enough to make a difference, hopefully preventing them from reaching crisis point.
“We also need to initiate frank and honest discussions throughout agriculture to tackle this complex subject. Therefore, we are also reaching out to numerous stakeholders and organisations, who I hope will join us by raising awareness more widely and amplifying these important messages.
“The launch of the online wellbeing community is a significant step towards achieving our vision that ‘no farmer should ever face adversity alone'."
To access the online counselling platform, visit the RABI website.
Or to speak to a BACP counsellor or psychotherapist, visit our Therapist Directory.
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Open article: The hours are long, there’s no annual leave or retirement package and you work outdoors in all weathers. Kris Ambler knocks on the doors of rural workers to find out about the mental health of the farming industry. BACP Workplace, April 2020
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