Mental health support for rural areas will become ever more important as the farming industry comes up against some of its greatest challenges, NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts has said.
Speaking at the RABI annual general meeting (15 May), Mr Roberts highlighted how dealing with issues such as Brexit and the impact of climate change can affect a farmers’ mental wellbeing. He emphasised the need for greater NHS resource in rural areas to help those who are struggling.
Mr Roberts said: “The British farming industry is on the brink of momentous change, not only on a national scale with Brexit but in the universal fight against climate change. These challenges, alongside the hugely diverse issues that running a farm business entails, can be incredibly stressful and have a negative impact on mental wellbeing. And like many people, it is an area that farmers have often been reluctant to talk about.
“Many farmers struggling with their mental health have turned to charities for support and these services will undoubtedly become even more important in the future. But this needs to go beyond charity support. We need to see government providing more medical resource in rural communities to ensure farmers can get the help they need and deserve.
“The industry must also remember that with all the changes and challenges coming our way, there also comes opportunity; not only to become a world leader in food production or to be at the forefront of environmental and climate action, but to build a farming sector that is underpinned by support, compassion and resilience.
“This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and I urge my fellow farmers to join the dialogue about mental wellbeing and help build a better future for our industry.”
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