Stigma surrounding mental health has this month been bumped to the top of the agenda.
Farming officials championed the work of Support in Mind Scotland and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) who for the first time encouraged farmers and crofters to speak up about life with a mental illness in a recent survey.
It came as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William and Kate, alongside brother Prince Harry, boosted the public profile of mental health with the launch of their Heads Together campaign last week.
A joint statement from the trio said attitudes to mental health were ‘at a tipping point’.
Ceredigion beef and sheep farmer Helen Howells, 33, backed the campaign and said it gave hope to ‘many of us who feel uncomfortable talking about this kind of thing’.
She said: “Farming is often a solitary profession, which reinforces the importance of marts, vets’ surgeries, agricultural merchants and local shows as key social hubs for farmers.
“These are ‘spaces’ where issues of concern are aired and shared and where we can begin to normalise mental health conversations.
“It is about time to break the stigma attached to mental health and if you are feeling vulnerable, please open-up and speak to someone.”
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick echoed the claims and said he was pleased studies were ‘finally beginning’ to expose the impacts of modern day farming and rural living.
“The survey results must act as a platform to tackle the stigma that still exists around mental health in a traditional industry like farming,” he said.
“There is clearly much more that must be done to talk frankly and openly about these issues in farming and crofting circles, while at the same time raising awareness of the organisations that are there to help.”
It came as Support in Mind Scotland promised to ‘connect’ people in rural communities in answer to their affirmation that ordinary links in the community helped overcome stigma, isolation and remoteness.
Jim Hume, manager of the forum for Support in Mind Scotland, added: “Mental ill health can be more difficult to tackle in remoter parts of Scotland but it can be treated, especially with early intervention.
“The Forum and its members are keen to take action by raising awareness in rural communities and normalising talking about mental ill health.”