RURAL WORKERS are being encouraged to take part in a pilot study which aims to create online tools that can help those with low mood and anxiety.
Previous research has indicated that farmers and crofters may be particularly vulnerable to these problems, and may not want, or be able to, access formal health care services to support them.
Once individuals have agreed to take part in the pilot study, which is being backed by NFU Scotland and rural charity RSABI, and organised and funded via the Institute of Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, they will be asked to complete an initial questionnaire to assess their current wellbeing, and their participation will be fully confidential.
NFUS president Allan Bowie said: “We know farmers and crofters can work in isolated areas, and often can go days without speaking to someone. This can impact on health and wellbeing, particularly at this time of year, and it’s fantastic that tools are being researched to help improve accessibility to help for those within our industry, in an unobtrusive, confidential way.
“One in four people in Scotland will suffer from poor mental health at some point in their life. And we know with the pressures that are currently facing our industry, and every sector, it can have a significant impact on how we feel and how we cope in the running of our businesses.
“I would encourage as many people as possible to take part in this study if they fit the criteria, as it can only bode well for helping our industry to be the best it can be going forward, with suitable resources available, no matter where you are in Scotland.”
RSABI welfare manager Mags Granger added: “This research by the University of Glasgow is very welcome and it is hoped that we will get enough farmers and crofters, and people working with the industry, who have suffered low mood and/or anxiety at some point in their lives to come forward to take part. This survey could result in practical help for farmers and crofters for the future.” 
Glasgow Uni’s Harriet Bowyer added: “Research suggests that online life skills training can help with low mood and anxiety, and that it works best if it is relevant to the people that are using it. That’s why this project has been designed specifically for farmers and crofters.”