Online mental wellbeing platform praised by farmers

Online mental wellbeing community Kooth has teamed up with farming organisation RABI to offer wellbeing support and counselling for farming people. People from the farming industry shared their thoughts on the platform….

Cambridgeshire farmer Matt Styles commented: “Mental health shouldn’t just be a statistic, it’s something that can affect every one of us, it’s completely individual and personal.”

Four out of five farmers under 40 believe mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today, according to research by the Farm Safety Foundation. It is an increasingly recognised problem in the industry, with isolation, financial pressure and long hours being among the causes.

To help tackle the problem, Kooth, in partnership with RABI, offer an online wellbeing platform to help those in the farming community cope with mental health issues.

Cambridgeshire farmer Matt Styles commented: “Mental health shouldn’t just be a statistic, it’s something that can affect every one of us, it’s completely individual and personal. Just like in farming, if there was a physical problem you may need to ask for help, when it comes to your own mental health it’s exactly the same.

“I’ve heard it said that as farmers we’re the farm’s greatest asset, so it pays to keep things in check rather than let things get on top of us. I’m the first to admit I’ve been through times in my life where I have struggled to find a path forward, but I’ve always kept putting one foot forward and moving on, which is never easy.

“This is why I feel mental health services are so important even if it’s just someone at the end of the phone to listen, it could change someone’s life.” 

Roger Kerr, chief executive of OF&G, says it is likely that the challenges and anxieties brought by Covid-19 and Brexit are adding to the stresses and strains that farmers already face.

“With these uncertainties now appearing to be extending through the winter and into next year, this can only further exacerbate feelings of frustration, isolation and disconnection.

“OF&G absolutely support this new service from RABI, especially if it can help our operators, their families, and their extended networks during this incredibly difficult time.

“Speaking from personal experience there’s a lot to be gained from seeking help from professionals who understand the way you feel. Having suffered from depression in the past, I know how hard it is to break the cycle when you are in a bad place but people do care and there is help out there. No one should feel like this.” 

Having trialled the platform with Young Farmers’ Club members, Wales YFC chairman Katie Davies said they found it to easy to use and appreciated the wealth of resources and blogs on mental health and issues in the agricultural industry. The service offers the option of being anonymous if the user wishes, which is important for those who are worried about seeking help.

“Mental health has come to the fore as a concern in our industry over the past few years, by providing support 24/7 and 365 days a year, this platform is vital tool to help,” she says. “As an industry we are aware that isolation and mental health issues have increased during Covid-19, this platform will be a way for those isolated to be connected and access support whenever they need and whoever they may be.”

Visit the platform here:

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