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World Mental Health Day 2019: Brexit tops list of worries for rural helpline calls

Uncertainty surrounding Brexit is taking its toll on the farming community and adding to the workload of farming help organisations around the country.

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Brexit tops list of worries for rural helpline calls

RSABI, Scotland’s leading rural charity, has supported 681 clients since April compared to 980 for the whole of the previous year.


Welfare manager Mags Granger said: "We have seen a significant increase in the amount of working farmers needing support.


"Over the previous year 139 working farmers contacted RSABI, but since April 2019 we have already supported 118 working farmers. That is 20 per month.”


Not all the calls are Brexit related but a number are, with farmers receiving emotional, financial and practical support as required.


Ms Granger added: "The support required varies with some client issues being addressed with a couple of calls to others that need all RSABI’s resources to help them move forward, including regular support calls, business reviews and liaising with other agencies.

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"A working farmer can take anything from one hour of support to 30 hours per case. They can, on occasion, require immediate financial support for essential living costs.


"Or they may benefit from counselling, especially if they are suffering from ill health or have had an accident.”



The Farming Community Network (FCN) has also seen a spike in calls since the Brexit referendum.


FCN chief executive Charles Smith said: "Our helpline is regularly receiving calls from farmers and farming families, all of whom have varying opinions about Brexit, but are nonetheless concerned about the uncertainty and the potential impact of Brexit on their farm business.


“The only thing we know for certain is that farming in the UK is going to change when Britain leaves the EU – and historically in farming, whenever there is change, there is also anxiety.

“Our main focus is the human impact of Brexit and the welfare of farmers and rural communities.


“We are in regular dialogue with industry leaders and government agencies, urging them to think, very carefully, about the potential human implications of their decisions.


“We are also working closely with the farmers themselves to ensure that they are well-informed and encouraging them to be resilient and embrace the changes that lie ahead.”

Scottish Government support

Scottish Government support

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing recently met farmers and RSABI staff at a farmhouse meeting.


He said listening to the impact the charity had on some individuals was ’truly heartening’.


“Speaking out when faced with financial, emotional or any other kind of hardship is often one of the most courageous and difficult things an individual can do," said Mr Ewing.


"We as individuals, are too often afraid of putting our heads above the parapet for fear of how that simple action might be received and interpreted by those around us.


“Listening to the various individual stories, it is absolutely clear to me that the most important thing an individual can do when faced with any form of hardship is to put up your hand up and say I need help.


“With the nature of rural life often meaning that individuals can be isolated at a time of need, early recognition of the signs of hardship within rural communities is essential.”

Helpline contacts

  • RSABI, which receives many of its calls via its Helpline on 0300 111 4166, is now able to arrange private professional mental health counselling, especially for those in areas with long NHS waiting lists;
  • FCN: 03000 111 999;
  • RABI: 0808 281 9490;
  • Addington Fund: 01926 620 135;
  • Samaritans: 116 123;
  • You Are Not Alone: 0300 323 0400.
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