BASC backs rural mental health inquiry

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has announced a wide-ranging inquiry into the mental health of people who live and work in rural communities.

The inquiry will see the EFRA Committee looking to make recommendations on how the government can improve provisions and service in rural communities.

Limited access to support

Mental health support is often concentrated in areas of high population. Access to support services in rural and remote communities can be limited due to a lack of facilities. The inquiry will seek to gather the opinions of people living and working rurally on this and other issues relating to mental health.

On launching the inquiry, Neil Parish MP, the chair of the Committee, said: “I’m pleased we’re starting this vital work. It’s important we talk openly about these issues and the help that is available. Mental health matters to us all. But for some people working in rural communities there are special factors that are often hidden in a world that sometimes feels like it is driven by those living in towns and cities.

“I’m a farmer myself and I know how people in our communities can sometimes suffer from isolation. That’s not to mention how insecure incomes, volatile weather and many other issues can be real stress factors.”

BASC will be submitting a full response to the Committee, which will include presenting our evidence on the impact that physical and online abuse targetted at gamekeepers has on their mental wellbeing. 

A society issue

Much has been written about the prevalence of mental health issues in wider society. Statisitics report that one-in-four people will encounter poor mental health in their lifetime.

However, some sectors record even higher numbers than this. The Farm Safety Foundation reports that one farmer a week in the UK dies by suicide. Similarly, the veterinary profession returns a suicide rate of four-times the national average.
A study into mental health in the horseracing industry reported that more than 75% of all survey respondents had struggled with their at some point during their careers.

Concentrating on the shooting fraternity, a BASC-led survey undertaken in 2021 showed nearly two-thirds of gamekeepers suffered abuse and/or threat because of their occupation. In certain instances this led to mental health deterioration and relationship breakdowns. 

BASC Scotland is calling for the creation of a Gamekeeping Taskforce in parliament, amid concerns the profession is being increasingly marginalised. Mental health and wellbeing will be a key focus within the taskforce. 

Have your say 

BASC is calling on all members and the wider community to take part in this worthwhile inquiry. By adding your voice, you can help others who find it difficult to speak up about their own mental wellbeing.

BASC takes the topic of mental health incredibly seriously. We highly recommend the services of the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) for gamekeepers who would like to talk to a member of their trained team. You can call the GWT helpline on 0300 123 3088.

The EFRA inquiry is calling for written statement up to the 7 January 2022. Click here to take part.