RABI launches two new farmer mental health support services

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has launched two new services – counselling and mental health training – in response to the concerning findings of the charity’s major farm survey last year.

More than 15,000 responses were gathered from the farming community in England and Wales, with 36% describing themselves as “probably” or “possibly” depressed. For women in agriculture, the figure was 43%.

See also: Analysis: The grim state of mental health in agriculture

RABI’s head of partnerships, Suzy Deeley, said the new counselling and farming-focused mental health training initiatives are designed to encourage people to take early action if they are struggling with their wellbeing.

“Collaborating with partners, Rabi is introducing essential services that we believe will make a difference to our community,” Ms Deeley said.

Counselling service

Anyone in agriculture can now speak to counsellors accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, via Rabi’s 24/7 helpline: 0800 188 4444.

Clinical or GP referrals are not necessary and counsellors will respond to the initial call for support within 24 hours.

The sessions can take place in person, or by telephone or video call.

Ms Deeley said: “All of the counsellors providing support have been selected for a combination of their clinical expertise and their background, engagement or interest in farming and rural communities.

“Ongoing counsellor training will ensure farming people are properly supported when they face issues affecting the sector.”

Mental health training

RABI is also working with mental health first aid trainer Red Umbrella to provide three new courses, in response to more rural people and groups asking for guidance on how to speak more freely about their mental health.

The half-day, one-day and two-day courses are designed to help people start conversations about wellbeing.

Anyone who completes the training will then have access to further support on request.

Kathleen Chapman, interim director of services at RABI, said: “When you need support, it should be there. As an organisation we want to champion, help and build resilient and healthy farming communities.”