Project to explore mental health of Scotland’s farmers

A joint study has been launched by Robert Gordon University and NHS Grampian, which aims to explore the mental wellbeing of Scotland's farmers
A joint study has been launched by Robert Gordon University and NHS Grampian, which aims to explore the mental wellbeing of Scotland's farmers

A newly launched research project is set to explore and enhance the mental wellbeing of the Scotland's farmers.

Researchers are looking to work with the farming community to listen to a range of opinions on mental health and what can be done to improve it.

The project’s aim will then be to develop an impactful intervention – hand-in-hand with farmers – to enhance and safeguard their wellbeing for the future.

Recent figures show that the suicide rate is at a worrying level – with on average one agricultural worker committing suicide each week in the UK.

The team of researchers from Robert Gordon University (RGU), led by Professor Kay Cooper, said those within the agriculture sector 'regularly experience stress, anxiety and depression'.

“Aside from the personal impact, poor mental wellbeing has a significant economic cost, with World Health Organisation recently estimating the global burden at £34.9billion,” Professor Cooper said.



“We have recently completed an initial review of prior interventions for wellbeing and chronic occupational diseases in the farming population, but of the 45 studies we found, only one focussed on mental wellbeing and was not applicable to a Scottish context.”

With the support of the NFU Scotland, the team of researchers will be holding interviews with farmers at Thainstone and Orkney marts, before moving on to the in-depth workshop phase.

NFU Scotland President, Andrew McCornick said: “Mental health and wellbeing is a hugely important subject which too often is ignored in the farming community. Over the last few years we have been seeing more and more people coming out in our industry and shining a light on the issue of depression and anxiety and how it can be so prevalent in farmers and crofters.”