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.
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.
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.
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.