New forum launched to improve mental health in rural areas

Bleak island
James Rose

A new forum to improve mental health provision and awareness in rural Scotland has been backed by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.

The National Rural Mental Health Forum aims to raise awareness of mental health in rural areas and brings together organisations including NFU Scotland, RSABI and the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs (SAYFC).

A recent survey by Support in Mind Scotland (SiMS) and SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College  found that 67% of respondents in rural areas had experienced depression.

The new forum has been set up to empower rural community organisations to raise awareness of mental health and encourage people living in rural Scotland to ask for help.

Mr Ewing said: “Helping rural communities and businesses thrive is a priority for this government and by enabling good mental health, we can all reach our full potential wherever we live.

“I welcome the new National Rural Mental Health Forum; rural groups working together for a common cause is a strong move forward in the right direction.

“I’m pleased to be supporting this positive initiative with an initial £25,000 to help co-ordinate a national rural focus on mental wellbeing.”

Support in Mind Scotland’s chief executive France Simpson welcomed the government funding.

She said: “Government support for this project will enable us to develop the network further, importantly including people with lived experience as well as organisations with outreach into the nooks and crannies of rural Scotland.

“The forum shall help us to develop policy based on evidence and deliver step change in rural Scotland."