SRUC opens rural mental health study

With a growing awareness of rural mental health issues, farmers across the country are being given the opportunity to take part in a study about managing low mood and anxiety issues.

Led by the University of Stirling in partnership with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the study hopes to find accessible ways to support people when they are feeling the weight of farming and crofting life.

Originally confined to the Highlands, Argyll and Bute and Shetland, the investigation involves participants answering an initial set of questions, by email or phone before trying out one or both types of support which have been specifically developed for people in the sector.

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Professor Margaret Maxwell of Stirling University, who is leading the study, said that those taking part would be contacted again three - and then six - months later to test the effects of the interventions and to get feedback.

She said that with studies showing that 80 per cent of young farmers considered mental health to be the biggest hidden problem facing the agricultural community, the area needed further investigation.

“Depression in farmers is increasing and suicide rates are among the highest in any occupational group,” added Maxwell.

The SRUC’s Dr Kate Stephen, said that changes and challenges in the sector could wear people down over time and the project, which can be reached through [email protected], aimed to find out what would be most helpful for those in the occupation while also offering personal benefits to those taking part,

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