Exploring the mental wellbeing of Scotland’s farmers – Robert Gordon University

Tractor farming

A research project at RGU which explores the mental wellbeing of Scotland’s farmers is moving forward to develop and test a suitable intervention, hand-in-hand with farmers, to support their mental health now and in the future.

A team of researchers from RGU’s School of Health Sciences and NHS Grampian Public Health, NFU Scotland and a local farmer, have been working with the farming community to explore their experiences of mental wellbeing and to co-design an intervention aimed at enhancing the wellbeing of the farming population.

The team – led by Professor Kay Cooper, Clinical Professor of Allied Health Professions at both RGU’s School of Health Sciences and NHS Grampian, and Professor Liz Hancock, RGU’s Vice-Principal for Academic Development and Student Experience – are conducting a survey to hear the views of Scotland’s farming community on potential interventions.

Professor Kay Cooper said: “We know that farmers and farming communities are facing significant uncertainty and improving the mental health and wellbeing of farmers and their families is crucial.

“We have been working with the north-east of Scotland farming community over the past two years to explore issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing in the farming community. This has resulted in some suggestions for services/interventions to support farmers and the farming community with mental health and wellbeing. Before we develop these further and test them out locally, we are interested in finding out what farmers and the farming community think of them. We will use the results of this survey to further develop and then test out a suitable intervention, with input from members of the farming community throughout.”

Lorna Paterson, Regional Manager at NFU Scotland, added: “I would urge all farmers to engage and respond to this survey as soon as possible and before harvest work reaches its peak.

“Our Farmers mental health generally is under severe pressure, and this has been escalated due to Covid-19. Farmers face so many inspection processes from various organisations, and the repercussions for failing to meet requirements, or for making minor errors can be magnanimous. This can cause financial, as well as mental health problems for the Farmer.

“We need to find practical and simple avenues to allow our Farmers to speak freely and in confidence about their problems, and this survey gives Farmers the scope to suggest what their preferred methods would be, in order to achieve this.”

Chris Littlejohn, Deputy Director of Public Health at NHS Grampian, said: “Prevention is always better than cure, for mental health as much as physical health.

“RGU’s work to develop effective interventions to support mental health in the farming community was always important, but is even more so given the stresses of Covid and the upcoming reality of Brexit. NHS Grampian is pleased to be an active partner in this work.”

The survey has been approved by the School of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee. It does not ask for any personal details, so responses are anonymous, and it should only take around 5-10 minutes. The survey will close on August 16.

The survey can be found online:

Content retrieved from: https://www.rgu.ac.uk/news/news-2020/3313-rgu-and-nhs-continuing-work-with-scotland-s-farming-community.

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