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Rural reflections on World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, and this once taboo subject is now becoming a normal topic of conversation, as it should. We know that one in four Scots face mental health problems at some point in their life and recent research by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has shown that isolation and stigma can be more challenging in rural Scotland.

Following that research, the National Rural Mental Health Forum has been set up. The Forum consists of organisations with expertise in mental health and organisations which have a good outreach into all parts of rural Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates are proud to have signed up to it. The Forum is using its network to inform Government policy, already feeding into the new social security powers that Scotland shall gain, and it has influenced the new ten-year mental health strategy.

The Forum had a prominent presence at the Royal Highland Show this year, where Scottish Government Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt MSP announced support for the Forum’s work, in cooperation with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing MSP. The Show gave the Forum a good platform to discuss with decision makers and the public some of the challenges that are faced by people in rural Scotland.

Challenges such as confiding in someone that your mental wellbeing may not be as good as you feel it should be, accessing services that may help, such as talking therapies, and reducing the stigma of being open about when you are unwell. Physical illness has no stigma, people are happy to state they have had a broken leg or appendicitis, there is no reason that we shouldn’t be able to talk about when we have depression or anxiety. If untreated, mental illness can worsen with sometimes dire consequences. If no-ticed quickly and acted upon, then it is known that early intervention and prevention can stop the condition worsening and results in many leading a full and healthy life.


The Forum is now starting to encourage rural organisations to look at “mental health first aid” training for their staff. This training raises awareness on mental health issues, normalises talking about your wellbeing, gives you the confidence to tackle dealing with it and promotes that important early intervention. We all know it is too easy to be frightened to approach someone who may be facing a wellbeing crisis, mental health first aid training gives you the tools and confidence to intervene at an early stage and can prevent people reaching a crisis point.

The National Rural Mental Health Forum is keen to raise awareness of mental health in rural Scotland through Scottish Land & Estates and the network of the Forum’s members. On World Mental Health day, remember mental health problems can affect anyone, and this day is a good opportunity to support better mental health and look after your friends and your own wellbeing.

Information on the Forum can be found here

Twitter @Rural_Wellbeing

Jim Hume
National Rural Mental Health Forum




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