Rural communities need more mental health support - Fruit & Vine

Rural communities need more mental health support

Mental health for rural communities still needs greater support from the government, said Sarah Dyke MP as we enter Mental Health Awareness Week.

Sarah Dyke MP Lib Dems speaking to a farmer
Sarah Dyke MP. Image credit: Liberal Democrats

The mental health of farmers and rural residents is still an imperative issue for the government to get behind. A large proportion feel their needs are, yet again, being ignored.

Despite some worrying conclusions in the 2023 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report (EFRA) on the subject, the government’s response was concerning.

It stated the specific mental health needs of rural communities ‘do not require targeted action’ and ‘existing provisions are sufficient to safeguard rural mental health.’

Sarah Dyke, MP for Somerton and Frome, has been fighting for more support of the farming industry.

From a farming family, Sarah knows all too well the struggles facing those in rural areas.

Speaking to Fruit & Vine she said: “As the daughter and sister of farmers, the mental health of those working in the farming community is of particular importance to me. 

Sarak Dyke MP Lib Dems standing by cows in a farm
Sarah Dyke, MP for Somerton & Frome. Image credit: Liberal Democrats

“My dad was a brilliant musician and when life on the farm got too much for him, he’d retreat to the piano. Music was his way of dealing with stress.

“My brother went through a very difficult time when he was having to handle challenges caused by the Tories’ Brexit deal.

“His dairyman had left and he was trying to do everything himself. Looking back, I can see what a huge mental and physical toll this was taking on him.

“So I understand how important it is for farmers and farm workers to look after their mental health, and to be open to having conversations about how they’re feeling.”

Mind Your Head

Earlier this year, Sarah co-hosted an event in Westminster with the Farm Safety Foundation to promote their Mind Your Head campaign.

It was also to raise awareness about the issues among MPs and peers from all parties.

Sarah continued: “A recent study by FSF (Farm Safety Foundation) found that poor mental health among farmers and agricultural workers is of growing concern.

“In a sample of 450 farmers under the age of 40, respondents almost universally agreed that poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing the industry today.

“I’ll continue working to raise awareness and to ensure hardworking farmers get the help they need.”

The Rural Services Network also continues to champion for rural areas.

As well as mental health issues, it focuses on other health challenges, including:

  • Limited access to transport
  • Longer distances to medical facilities
  • An ageing demographic
  • Housing inadequacies
  • Digital connectivity gaps
  • Recruitment hurdles for healthcare workers.

Chief executive of The Rural Services Network, Kerry Booth, says all political parties need to prioritise fair funding.

Kerry Booth mental health rural industry
Kerry Booth, chief executive of The Rural Services Network. Image credit:

Quality of life

Speaking to Fruit & Vine, she said: “During Mental Health Week, it’s crucial to spotlight the unique challenges faced by our rural communities in accessing essential health and care services.

“As outlined in our ‘Winning the Rural Vote’ campaign, rural residents encounter significant barriers such as limited transport, longer distances to healthcare facilities, and digital connectivity issues.

“These hurdles not only impede access to general health services but also critically affect mental health support.

“The disparity in funding and resources between urban and rural areas exacerbates these challenges.

“We are calling on all political parties to prioritise fair funding and the development of community-based healthcare solutions to ensure rural populations receive the consistent, high-quality care they deserve.

“Addressing these issues is not just about improving healthcare, it’s about enhancing the overall quality of life and mental wellbeing for those living in our rural communities.”

Man sitting on sofa alone with head in hands suffering with his mental health
Poor mental health among farmers and agricultural workers is of growing concern. Image credit: Unsplash

If you, or someone you know is struggling, the Samaritans operates a 24-hour service, every day of the year.

Call 116 123 from any phone, for free.

If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at

You can also speak to the Farming Community Network helpline: 03000 111 999/

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution helpline is available 24 hours a day and free to call: 0800 188 4444

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