Female farmers

RABI is urging farmers to reach out to five others in the sector this Mental Health Awareness Week

As Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 kicks off this week, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) is asking the UK farming community to try to find time to take five minutes to reach out to five friends and check how they’re getting on.

With continued restrictions to meeting face-to-face, the farming charity is increasingly seeing the impacts of isolation on the mental wellbeing of farming people, according to Alicia Chivers, RABI chief executive.

'Loneliness can be a significant issue for the farming community, and as a result of multiple lockdowns, we know many farmers across the country are under increasing pressure,” she said.

“We can all make a real difference by simply sending a message or picking up the phone for a quick chat. Our friendships are among the most valuable relationships we have and are a crucial tool to help protect our mental health. This is why we are encouraging everyone working in agriculture to reach out to five members of the farming community this week by sending a message or giving them a call.'

Farming people are raised to be robust, which can lead to self-imposed expectations of needing to be seen as virtually invincible, she continued. This can become an invisible barrier that makes reaching out for support feel like a weakness, rather than the strength it really is.

The RABI online wellbeing platform was launched in part to try to alleviate this concern, Chivers added. Access is completely anonymous and everyone is able to access farmer-specific contents and a huge range of advice and articles, as well as discussion boards, case studies and messaging functions.

In addition, everyone can access one-to-one anonymous counselling support from BACP accredited professionals through a chat function. English and Welsh speaking counsellors are available who are trained in many different forms of counselling, allowing them to meet individual needs and preferences.

This latest #5for5 drive to support farmer wellbeing comes with the full support of RABI whose vision is that ‘no farmer should ever face adversity alone’.

“Mental Health Awareness Week serves as a timely reminder to all to consider how important mental wellbeing is. So we really hope you’ll be able to join us in spending five minutes to reach out to five loved ones,' Chivers said.

RABI, UK farming's oldest and largest charity, offers financial and practical support to farming people of all ages, including farmers, farmworkers and dependants.