NFU Scotland’s director of region’s Teresa Dougall spoke at a Holyrood reception on rural mental health last week. And she told those present about the Dumfries and Galloway Health and Wellbeing in the Farming Community scheme, which has been running for two years.
It seeks to ensure that doors are always open for those that want or need to talk. Teresa said: “We know farmers don’t like discussing their feelings. They don’t like admitting anything is wrong. And, they don’t like asking for help. “In addition, they don’t like – or can’t – take time out away from work, which often merges with home life.”
Working with farmers and the rural community for more than 25 years, she has seen and heard first-hand the difficulties and barriers farmers face in maintaining good health and wellbeing. She highlighted that it can be lonely and isolating and services that others take for granted operate around working hours which do not always suit those who are farming.
In a bid to help, the initiative has provided leaflets containing contacts for organisations who could assist in health and wellbeing and mental health. It also lobbies for better connectivity in rural areas so that all parts of the community can access friends and family through social media or Facetime, and it provides opportunities for networking and socialising.
Teresa, above right, added: “This initiative is about ensuring that within Dumfries and Galloway, our farming community feels supported and informed when it comes to health and wellbeing. Looking ahead, she said: “We need to encourage everyone to speak up and recognise that admission is a strength, not a weakness. We need to ensure service provision for our current and future communities, encouraging the younger generation to work where they live and help them achieve a vibrant farming sector where they can be fit, healthy, happy and supported.”