New campaign to support mental health of Scottish farmers

Livestock auctioneers around Scotland will spend Thursday, June 18, on their phones to help farmers beat loneliness and mental ill health resulting from lockdown.

By Neil McGrory, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 2:25 pm
With the lambing and calving seasons over, there are concerns that many farmers will be struggling to cope with isolation. Photo: Lisa Ferguson
With the lambing and calving seasons over, there are concerns that many farmers will be struggling to cope with isolation. Photo: Lisa Ferguson

With the stressful lambing and calving seasons over, but no marts, shows or events to help them connect with people and enjoy themselves, there are concerns that many farmers will be struggling to cope with isolation.

The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland have launched #KeepTalking, a campaign to help farmers.

Auctioneers, known for their gift of the gab and importance to farming communities, have been recruited across Scotland as campaign ambassadors.

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The campaign encourages people to follow their example by calling people they haven’t spoken to for six months.

IAAS president Scott Donaldson said:  “As auctioneers, we spend a lot of time talking to farmers and often act as a confidant, sound board, business eye and friend.

“It’s something we take extremely seriously because we know that for farmers that chat in the yard or kitchen could be the only one they have that day, week, or even month.

“Marts themselves also play a critical role in enabling farmers to connect, share successes and disasters, or simply unwind with a bacon butty and chat about the rugby.

“Right now, however, the pandemic has halted those face-to-face interactions, so we encourage everyone to pick up the phone to a neighbour, friend, or acquaintance – for your own health and there’s too.

“Let them know you’re there if they need. And if you’re struggling, let people know – there is no shame in it and we all need to get better at sharing how we’re feeling.

“If talking to your peers is too much, ring your auctioneer who can point you to support services, or ring RSABI directly. Our auctioneers are always at the end of a phone if you need them and will be increasing the number of calls they make at this difficult time.”

RSABI’s call volume doubled in the past month and the charity is ringing people regularly to help break loneliness.

The campaign will continue until Sunday, June 21, which would have been the final day of the Royal Highland Show.

RSABI’s helpline 0300 111 4166 is open seven days a week, and people can also participate in the campaign using the #KeepTalking hashtag on social media.