Rural mental health inquiry launched

An investigation is underway into the mental health challenges faced by those in rural communities while also seeking evident about the adequacy of care services available.

The Chair of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Neil Parish MP, has announced the inquiry with the committee is aiming to form a broad overview of the issue, to inform recommendations to the government on how it can improve mental health provision and outcomes in rural areas.

It is particularly interested in hearing evidence relating to a range of specific questions.

The move has been warmly welcomed by rural organisations. The Countryside Alliance said: “We appreciate the critical importance to everyone of looking after their mental health and having the opportunity to access high-quality care when they need it, but we recognise that this is one of many areas in which rural communities can be under-served.

“There is a focus in the inquiry on agriculture but the challenge extends further. Taking just one example, from our extensive engagement with gamekeepers we know that the isolation and loneliness they and their families often face can be especially difficult.

“t is only exacerbated by the abuse they can suffer, including over social media, from animal rights activists who oppose the sector. Scotland’s Rural Affairs Minister said in January that the evidence he had been shown of gamekeeper harassment had left him ‘appalled’.

“We appreciate that some people who have been affected by these issues might prefer to contribute without being personally associated with their submission. The committee will accept requests for responses to be kept anonymous or confidential but, as an alternative, we will shortly be launching a survey that will allow us to submit a compilation of anonymous responses highlighting key themes.

The UK Parliament website has more information about the enquiry.

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