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Rural mental health


Improving the quality of mental health provision has been an increasing priority for the Government and the NHS in recent years. The NHS Long Term Plan, published on 7 January 2019 sets out the NHS’s aim to advancing mental health equalities, and commits it to providing an additional 380,000 people per year with access to adult psychological therapies by 2023/24.

Mental health support is often concentrated in areas of high population and access to services in rural and remote communities can be limited to a lack of facilities and other factors, such as limited public transport. It’s been argued that the low visibility of mental health service in these communities can lead to culture of self-reliance which can prevent people from seeking support earlier, instead only seeking support when they have already reached ‘crisis’ stage. The quality of mental health support in rural areas are in response to “shocks” – such a flood and animal culls - has also been raised the Committees inquiries into other topics.

Farming and other agricultural related professions are known to face particular mental health challenges, with higher than average rates of depression and suicide. The Farm Safety Foundation reporting that that one farmer a week in the UK dies by suicide whilst research by Edinburgh University has shown that the rate of suicide in the veterinary profession is at least three times that of the general population. According to the Farm Safety Foundation, 81% of farmers under 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today and 92% believe that promoting good mental health is “crucial” if lives are to be saved and farmers kept safe.

Our call for evidence ended on 21st January 2022.

We understand that the issues raised in this work may be sensitive or upsetting and the following organisations may be able to offer support or further information: 

Samaritans – General support for everyone.

Call 116 123 - 24 hours a day, every day 


Mind – for information, advice, and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Call: 0300 123 3393.

Citizens Advice - For independent, free advice provided by a network of charities online, over the phone and in person on a wide variety of issues including benefits, work, debt, housing, family and immigration.

Adviceline is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Adviceline (England): 0800 144 8848


This inquiry is no longer accepting evidence

The deadline for submissions was Friday 21 January 2022.

Upcoming events

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Past events

Tuesday 12 July 2022
2:00pm Private
2:30pm Public
Rural mental health - Oral evidence 12 July 2022
  • Claire Murdoch (National Director for Mental Health at NHS England)
  • Samantha Allen (Chief Executive at North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board)
  • Gillian Keegan (Minister of State at Department of Health and Social Care)
  • Zoe Seager (Deputy Director, Mental Health Policy and Delivery at Department of Health and Social Care)
  • Rt Hon The Lord Benyon (Rural Affairs Minister at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
  • Jonathan Baker (Deputy Director, Future Farming and Countryside Programme, at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
The Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Tuesday 21 June 2022
1:45pm Private
2:30pm Public
Rural mental health - Oral evidence 21 June 2022
  • Jacqui Morrissey (Assistant Director of Research and Influencing at Samaritans)
  • Kate Miles (Charity Manager at DPJ Foundation)
  • Professor Jim McManus (Executive Director, Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council)
  • Sarah Connery (Chief Executive at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Dr Tim Sanders (Clinical Lecturer in Rural Medicine at Royal College of General Practitioners)
  • Dr Jaspreet Phull (Acting Medical Director at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust)
Room 6, Palace of Westminster
Tuesday 24 May 2022
2:00pm Private
2:30pm Public
Rural mental health - Oral evidence 24 May 2022
  • Janette Smeeton (Chief Executive Officer at Derwent Rural Counselling Service)
  • Danny Hutchinson (Chief Executive Officer at Invictus Wellbeing)
  • Carol Stockman (Social Prescribers at Cotswolds Community Wellbeing Service)
  • Mrs Melinda Raker (Founder at You Are Not Alone)
  • Edward Richardson (Farm Adviser at Farm Cornwall)
  • Stephen Dodsworth (Fields Person at Darlington Farmers Auction Mart)
  • Trudy Herniman (Volunteer at Farmerados)
Room 6, Palace of Westminster
Tuesday 26 April 2022
2:00pm Private
2:30pm Public
Rural mental health - Oral evidence 26 April 2022
  • Melanie Costas (Founder and Chief Executive at Rural Mental Health Matters)
  • Barbara Piranty (CEO at Gloucestershire Rural Community Council)
  • Karen Black (Chief Executive at Off the Record Bristol)
  • Dan Mobbs (Chief Executive at Mancroft Advice Project)
  • Dr Jude McCann (Chief Executive Officer at Farming Community Network (FCN))
  • Alicia Chivers (Chief Executive at Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution)
  • Dr Rosie Allister (Director at Vetlife)
  • James Russell (Senior Vice President at British Veterinary Association)
The Grimond Room, Portcullis House

Contact us

We can’t usually help you with an individual problem or a specific complaint.

  • Email:
  • Phone: Media enquiries: 020 7219 3138
  • Address: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA