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Urgent action is needed to avoid a mental health crisis in farming, RABI says

Building on evidence gained via RABI’s recent Big Farming Survey, the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has put forward urgent recommendations in its inquiry into poor mental health in rural communities, a move welcomed by the farming charity.

Launched to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, the inquiry report is based on the insights of RABI’s Big Farming Survey, gained from over 15,000 respondents across England and Wales.

“The findings in the EFRA report echo our concerns that there is a need for urgent preventative action now, if we are to avoid a mental health crisis for our community,” says Alicia Chivers, RABI chief executive.

The charity has particularly welcomed recognition from the government that there is a pressing need for funding to help the rollout of mental health training to farmers and agricultural workers, so early intervention and support can be provided to those in need.

“Many of the recommendations mirror the support services we’ve launched in response to the Big Farming Survey findings, including in-person mental health counselling and farming-focused mental health training initiatives,” Ms Chivers continues.

“The launch of the report and key recommendations opens the door to further conversation around the development of an effective mental health policy for farming communities.”

The charity is pleased to have provided wide-ranging evidence to the inquiry, helping policymakers grasp the realities of rural mental health in the UK. The outcomes of the inquiry closely align with RABI’s long-term outlook, which is focused on addressing the wrap-around needs of farming people.

The increasing demand for mental health support services experienced by RABI and other farming charities further underline the far-reaching impacts of the complex challenges currently facing many working in agriculture. In 2022, over two and a half times as many members of the farming community received support from RABI than in previous years.

Ms Chivers goes on to highlight the crucial importance of providing early, preventative support to the farming community in improving mental health and wellbeing.

She concludes: “Over the coming months, we welcome the opportunity to continue supporting policymakers on the development and delivery of greater proactive support and training that will benefit farming people.”


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