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.
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