We’ve spoken a lot this week about how important it is to raise awareness of mental health in the industry – the issues that farmers are facing and the crippling burden of poor mental health, particularly for those in crisis situations.
Over the past year, the world has seen a high degree of change, isolation, uneasiness and loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic. People have lost their jobs, lost loved ones, and are struggling to maintain some sense of normality while life feels anything but normal. This suffering is often exacerbated by stigma and discrimination, making people afraid to seek help. But what happens when they do? Where can they find this support?
You may have seen at the bottom of all our articles this week a reference to some of the fantastic rural support charities throughout the UK. Unfortunately, over the past year, these vital lifelines have experienced a decrease in the levels of funding while seeing increased demand for their services. From the outside, this looks like a difficult situation and indeed, it is.
The charity sector is one of the worst-hit by the pandemic, with one in 10 charities facing bankruptcy last year.
Following total donations of around £1.8 million made in 2020, and as the challenges of the pandemic continue for local and national charities, leading rural insurer NFU Mutual has pledged a further £2.75 million in 2021 to enable these organisations to offer support to the communities they serve. £2 million will be donated to local charities through their Agency Giving Fund and a further £750,000 to the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust to support national organisations.
One of those organisations that benefits from support from the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust is the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) who, in 2020, launched their online mental wellbeing platform in partnership with leading provider Kooth. This valuable tool is available to younger and older members of the farming community 24 hours a day / 365 days a year and is supported, through Kooth, by professionals who can offer specialist support, one-to-one counselling and initiate conversations…
The beauty of this online support is that anyone who feels in any way uncomfortable speaking face-to-face or even by phone to someone about their mental health struggles, how they are dealing with Covid-19, their sexuality or any other issue can join the platform anonymously and access the services as often and for as long as they need.
There is no pressure to share personal details so it can be the first step for someone who is unsure of how they are feeling but may recognise that they do need help.
This is just one of the services offered by RABI who are one of the five Farming Help charities. We know there is increased awareness of the issue of poor mental health in the industry now but what we really need is more funding for rural mental health – more psychologists, more psychiatrists, more support and waiting times under a year – rural support charities are a lifeline but can only do so much…
In the meantime, we need to learn more about the charities we do have – what they can offer and how to contact them. In our recent research into 450 young farmers across the UK, while 71% of those surveyed were aware of the Farm Safety Foundation/Yellow Wellies, the awareness of other rural support charities varied from 63% for RABI, 45% for FCN, 34% for Forage Aid and 19% were aware of Addington Fund. In Scotland, 65% of young farmers are aware of RSABI
These are wonderful organisations who do so much for the industry and this is why, next week, we will be doing a Farming Help Awareness Yellow Wellies Takeover of our social media accounts. Representatives from Addington Fund, RABI, FCN, RSABI and Forage Aid will be sharing an insight into what they do and how they can help.
Tune into @yellowwelliesuk on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter all next week to learn more.