World Mental Health Day: Government urged to increase rural support

Campaigners say mental health in the countryside can often become unnoticed by health professionals
Campaigners say mental health in the countryside can often become unnoticed by health professionals

Farming groups are urging the government to ensure the provision of rural mental health services remain high on the agenda as World Mental Health Day soon commences.

The 2023 campaign, taking place on Tuesday (10 October), is ‘mental health is a universal human right', meaning everybody has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health.

First held in 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health's dedicated day raises awareness of mental health issues, and to fighting the still-associated stigma.

But such issues in the countryside and farming industry can often become unnoticed by health professionals.

The leading cause of death for people aged between 20 and 34 is suicide - and approximately, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than one agricultural worker a week in the UK takes their own life.

And this year, farmers and those who work in rural areas may be suffering more than usual due to feelings of isolation, the cost-of-living crisis and an uncertain policy direction.

Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation, said the charity's research showed that levels of mental health in farming were deteriorating.

She said: "Farmers also recognise that there are barriers to ‘opening up’ about their mental health however, having ‘no one to talk to’ was not seen as a significant barrier.

“However, calls to rural support helplines have increased or become more complex over the past three years.

"For example: In Wales, Tir Dewi have noted 5-8 times the volume of calls to their helpline and the DPJ Foundation have made 47% more counselling referrals."

She added: "We need to take the pressure off these rural support groups and charities who are increasingly relied upon to provide support for those in crisis situations."

MPs recently expressed 'deep concern' about how isolation and a lack of digital connectivity have contributed to poor mental health in rural areas, particularly among farmers.

A report by the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee (EFRA), published in May, called for far greater joined-up planning and action from the government to address the issue.

The study said that relative poverty in rural areas could exacerbate poor mental wellbeing, and that rural workers, including farmers, faced "particular stresses".

These included unpredictable weather and animal health crises, as well as uncertain government policies which could affect farmers' incomes as well as their mental health.

Who can provide support?

Organisations that offer help and support for farmers and others in rural areas include numerous charities, such as Farming Community Network, the DPJ Foundation, YANA: You Are Not Alone and Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).


Cheshire Ag Chaplaincy

07967 559 594

Available 24/7



01736 367589 or

07775 667825

Farming Health Hub

07568 471064


Cumbria Ag Chaplaincy

Farmer Network

01768 868615


Derbyshire Rural Chaplaincy/Rural Action Derbyshire (RAD)

07710 088972

Farming Life Centre

01692 810903


Dartmoor Hill Farm Project

01822 890913

Exmoor Hill farming Network

01643 841455


Sherborne Deanery Rural Chaplaincy

01963 23570

07966 754110


UTASS (Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services)

01833 641010

07917 304685


Gloucestershire Farming Friends

0845 300 6886


Herefordshire Rural Hub

01432 268428

We Are farming Minds

07506 567500

Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy

07958 591646

07531 676832

Isle of Wight

Wight Rural Hub

01983 296244


Lancashire Field Nurse

07815 099748


Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN)

0800 138 1710

8am– 8pm 365 days a year


You Are Not Alone (YANA)

0300 323 0400


Shropshire Rural Support

0300 123 2825

Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy

07958 591646 or 07531 676832


Somerset Mental Health in Agriculture (SMHAG)

07590 684888

Exmoor Hill farming Network

01643 841455



07413 683368

You Are Not Alone (YANA)

0300 323 0400


Farming Life Centre

01692 810903


Warwickshire Rural Hub

07780 159291


Sherborne Deanery Rural Chaplaincy

01963 23570

07966 754110


Yorkshire Agricultural Society

01423 541000

Farmer Network

01768 868615


DPJ Foundation

0800 5874 262 (call)

07860048799 (text)

Tir Dewi

0800 121 4722

7am – 10pm 365 days a year