RABI launches online counselling service for farmers

Farmers can access one-to-one counselling support from qualified professionals through a chat function
Farmers can access one-to-one counselling support from qualified professionals through a chat function

A new wellbeing initiative for the farming industry has been launched which includes an online counselling service for farmers in England and Wales.

With 2020 bringing ever greater levels of uncertainty and unexpected changes, pressures on the farming community continue to grow.

As part of a new package of services designed to assist people to deal with these complex challenges, RABI has launched an online wellbeing community and counselling service.

The initiative, delivered in partnership with a specialist mental health provider, sees the farming charity evolve its service to meet the changing needs of farmers.

The confidential online platforms feature two distinct sites – one for adults and another for those aged 11 to 17.

The websites include dedicated content that addresses specific challenges facing farmers such as loneliness, Brexit anxiety, animal health and crop disease and farm debt.

Alicia Chivers, RABI’s chief executive, said farmers continued to face difficult times, particularly in regard to the pandemic and the looming end of the Brexit transition period.

"Managing mental wellbeing has emerged as one of the most significant issues facing our sector, which is already known for its higher than average levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and suicide.

"We believe early intervention and one-to-one support are essential to ensuring good mental health and tackling the root causes of poor wellbeing.

"We believe that providing confidential, easily accessible, free online support can make a real difference to a wide audience,” Ms Chivers said.

Users are able to anonymously access farmer specific and more generic content, as well as discussion boards, case studies and messaging functions.

There are also tools such as a journal to record and track progress against personal goals, as well as tips and articles.

In addition, all users can access one-to-one counselling support from British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) professionals through a chat function.

RABI said the practitioners are trained in different forms of counselling, allowing them to meet individual needs and preferences.

Ms Chivers added: "We understand the issues that farmers face and really care about finding and developing tools that can assist.

"Our role is to offer encouragement so people can access the services they need, early enough to make a difference, hopefully preventing them from reaching crisis point.

“The launch of the online wellbeing community is a significant step towards achieving our vision that ‘no farmer should ever face adversity alone,” she said.