Community spirit helps with rural mental health support
8th June 2021
Professionals from the extended farming community have been supporting YANA, the charity dedicated to rural mental health support, helping to combat the additional stresses that the past year has brought to the rural community.
If there is one positive from the difficulties of the last year it is that so many communities have learned to look out for each other in different and innovative ways. A community can be a town, a village, a school or just groups of people with a shared interest, anywhere we have safety, and caring for each other.
When thinking of community in relation to business, farming stands out as an industry with a sense of community across the length and breadth of the country. Even if farming in Cornwall is quite different to Scotland, or Wales to East Anglia – there is always a common thread and sense of camaraderie. But the farming community is far greater than those than those on the tractors, in the farm offices, tending the livestock or harvesting the fruit and vegetables to feed our nation.
Keeping the farming industry going needs professional support from all angles. Agronomists, accountants, solicitors, land agents and insurers are all part of the big picture which helps our community stay strong.
During the uncertain times of the last couple of years, it has often been these supporting professionals who are seeing the financial and emotional impact on the industry. Taking difficult calls, hearing concerns, seeing the strain of the day-to-day worries, sometimes speaking to those who are at the edge.
Those who work in farming and other rural businesses are often reluctant to seek support for depression, stress or anxiety. A problem only being made worse by the extra pressures that external factors like bad weather and unprecedented pandemics can bring.
Recognising these difficulties, a number of companies have taken the initiative to engage with the rural mental health charity YANA. This extended network is showing its support and finding ways to show it genuinely cares about the farming community, by signposting clients to YANA’s confidential support and fully funded counselling.
Luke Broadley, Director of Longfield’s Insurance, recently commented: ‘I feel strongly that all businesses that sit within the farming community should be aware of and promote YANA particularly at this time when we are seeing high levels of stress, anxiety or depression. If companies like ours are proactive in signposting to YANA at every available opportunity, it could save lives. A recent article we placed in Farmers Guide highlighting YANA generated a lot of interest – clearly the support is needed.
In another example of the financial sector reaching out to help the charity, Scrutton Bland, Accountants, chose to donate the usual expenses of their annual conference, which had to be held online this year, to YANA. Nick Banks, partner at the Ipswich Advisory Team, explained why supporting rural mental health causes is important to them;
“Running a business can sometimes feel lonely, coping with the operational and financial challenges that can arise. Mental health is so important to the wellbeing of the farmer, their family, business and community. We chose to promote the good work of YANA at our recent digital farming summit and were only too pleased to make a donation of £600 in lieu of the cost of the bacon rolls we would normally provide. We understand that this will provide 16 hours of counselling to support three families. We think that is a great result from a small gesture and urge other businesses that work in the farming community to think how they too could support in these challenging times.”
YANA Trustee, Matt Hubbard, who is also Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for the East of England, explained that he was able to see both sides of the coin: ‘in my professional life, I too see the distress and concerns of the rural businesses but am also involved with a charity that can really make a difference to people’s lives. We welcome engagement from companies like Longfield’s and Scrutton Bland and hope more will follow. Together we can make an extensive and cohesive network of support and improve the mental wellbeing of the whole industry’.
The donations will help YANA continue to offer confidential counselling to those in rural areas struggling with any form of mental health worry. They are also now offering free Mental Health First Aid courses which help those professionals to learn the skills and gain the confidence to support others.
If you or someone you know may need help contact YANA for support.