We’re delighted that evidence we provided to an inquiry into rural mental health has been included in recommendations to the UK Government.

We responded to a consultation by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee last year, which sought information on the specific mental health challenges, as well as the current state of mental health and suicide prevention service provision, for those living and working in rural communities.

Our submission highlights the potential challenges faced by farmers and those living in rural communities.

These range from isolation to farm succession, from financial worries to physical health problems and structural and cultural barriers to seeking help.

Targeted investment

We called for urgent, targeted investment in mental health services to address these issues, in order to support a greater access and choice to a range of psychological therapies, including counselling and psychotherapy.

Our submission has been published by the Committee.

Our evidence was directly cited throughout the Committee report and therefore informed the Committee’s policy and funding recommendations to the Government.

These recommendations included the establishment of a DEFRA and DHSC joint rural mental health policy and delivery team; an NHS focus on providing rural communities with good access to services in terms of location and outreach; reducing reliance on CAMHS by expanding preventative mental health support for children and young people; and ensuring that the next round of the Farm Resilience Fund prioritises providing mental health support to the farming community.

We’re committed to increasing access to psychological therapies for those from isolated and marginalised groups, playing a leading role in this agenda by working with a network of rural stakeholders, including rural research partners, representative bodies, mental health services and rural businesses.

We led a rural roundtable event at the flagship Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference in March and later this year we’ll convene a meeting of stakeholders committed to understanding and tackling mental health inequalities in rural communities.

Challenges facing rural communities

Karan Chhabra, our Policy and Public Affairs Officer, said: “We’re pleased to see the evidence we provided in our inquiry response directly cited throughout the report, and used to inform the EFRA Committee’s policy recommendations to Government

“We know that farmers and those living in rural communities suffer from a unique set of challenging circumstances. These range from higher living costs, known as the rural premium, to increased rates of loneliness, isolation and mental ill-health, as well as higher rates of suicide than the general population.

“We hope that this report serves as a catalyst for direct, targeted investment in mental health services, including counselling and psychotherapy, in these communities.”