Rural Support joins Covid-19 mental health action group


Written by Rachel Martin

Agricultural mental health charity Rural Support has joined a coalition of charities working to help communities cope with the stress induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It comes as the results from a UK-wide study involving Queen’s University Belfast showed around one-third of Northern Ireland respondents met the criteria for anxiety and depression.

The survey of over 2,500 people from all walks of life included 470 people from Northern Ireland. Of these, one in five met the criteria for Covid-19 related PTSD.

In response, a group of charities have banded together to form a new ‘virtual well-being hub’.

The Department for Communities and the Department of Health-funded project, which is led by INSPIRE, brings together 15 leading mental and wellbeing health charities and the Healthy Living Centre Alliance.

The partnership is calling on people to:

  • Acknowledge how they are feeling and coping at this time;
  • Take positive action to look after their mental health;
  • Reach out for help and support.

Rural Support chief executive Veronica Morris said: “There will undoubtedly be a lasting impact of Covid-19 for farmers and farm families, both in terms of business and mental wellness.

“Rural Support remains committed to building upon the foundations in place in both areas to best support our farmers and farming families.

We are delighted to be involved in the CovidWellBeingNI partnership and will look forward to contributing to the practical support being made available through its online hub in the coming months and also in feeding into the wider discussions around a mental health strategy for the region ensuring that the needs of the farming community and its uniqueness are recognised and addressed.

Health Minister Robin Swann said the partnership was a key part of the Covid Mental Health Response Plan he announced two weeks ago.

“I would encourage people to use this unique and impressive resource created as a direct response to the emotional impact Covid-19 is having on our society,” he said.

Department for Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “The CovidWellbeingNI partnership draws together an unprecedented wealth of expertise and support with one clear aim – to promote the positive mental health of people including those vulnerable people and communities who are struggling at this time.

“Existing inequalities have been amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is important information and support reach as many people as possible.”

Need to talk?

If you have been struggling and need to talk to someone, Rural Support can be contacted on: 0800-138-1678.

All calls are confidential, the helpline is available 9:00am-9:00pm, Monday to Friday (alternative support options available at all times).

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LIVE - DEFRA SFI Janet Hughes “ask me anything” 19:00-20:00 20th September (Today)

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Hello, I’m Janet Hughes. I’m the Programme Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme in Defra – the programme that’s phasing out the Common Agricultural Policy and introducing new schemes and services for farmers.

Today (20 September) between 7pm-8pm, I and some of my colleagues will be answering your questions about our work including the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Farming in Protected Landscapes, and our test and trials.

We’ll try to answer at least 15 of your top voted questions, so please vote on the questions you’d most like me to answer.

You can read more about our Future Farming policy on our blog.

I’ve answered some of your questions previously: you can watch the videos on...