Conference to focus on mental health in farming

Mental health written in clouds
Norette Ferns

NFU Scotland's North East region are hosting its inaugural Mental Health Conference on 7 November in Inverurie.

The event is an opportunity to hear from the National Rural Mental Health Forum, NHS Grampian, Robert Gordon University (RGU), Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland and RSABI as well as those that have overcome difficult times while running a farm business. 

The conference will be chaired by NFUS Chief Executive Scott Walker and the keynote speaker is Jim Hume, convener of the National Rural Mental Health Forum.

Local farmer, Kevin Gilbert and Gary Mitchell, who farms at Stranraer, will discuss some of the mental health challenges they have overcome and will share the stage with Graham Morgan MBE, who is now an ambassador with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.

Also speaking at the conference will be Chris Littlejohn of NHS Grampian and Professor Liz Hancock of RGU on the work being undertaken in the North East to help better understand the magnitude and scale of the challenge farming faces. In addition, rural charity RSABI’s Welfare Manager Mags Granger will outline the important work which RSABI deliver to support the industry.

Commenting on the first North East Mental Health Conference, Regional Chairman Davie Winton said:

"Your health is your wealth and we are delighted to be hosting this conference which we hope many of our members will take the opportunity to participate in.

"The huge stresses in our industry nowadays mean that we are all aware of someone somewhere who is suffering. This event will help us all better recognise the early symptoms of depression and show us how best to help support each other to get through the dark days. The quality of speakers is phenomenal, and this event should be a real cracker."

Christopher Littlejohn, Deputy Director of Public Health said:

"NHS Grampian works to protect and improve the health of the population and has long engaged with employers to support the health of the workforce. Most recently we have partnered with NFU and RGU to support mental health amongst the farming community. We look forward to sharing and discussing details of this at the mental health event."

Liz Hancock, Vice Principal RGU added:

"The University is working in close collaboration with NHS Grampian and the NFU on a piece of research to develop an intervention to enhance the mental wellbeing of the Scottish farming population.

"To date, a full systematic review of literature has been undertaken and members of the farming community have been interviewed to explore opinions on their mental health and wellbeing and what can be done to improve it. Work is in progress to codesign an intervention. We look forward to sharing our findings at the event on the 7 November."

The first North East Mental Health Conference will take place on Thursday 7 November at 7pm in the Kintore Arms, Inverurie. Members who would like to attend can call 0131 472 4000 to book.