Jim Hume, Convener of the National Rural Mental Health Forum - 17 July 2019

Mental health is an important part of everyday farm health and safety which is too often ignored. Jim Hume, Convener of the National Rural Mental Health Forum, discusses the importance of being open about mental health issues and the work being done for those in rural Scotland.

Mental health has been a taboo subject for too long and in our rural communities the lack of anonymity, in that ‘everyone knows everyone’, has made it even more difficult for people to seek help at an early enough stage. The National Rural Mental Health Forum has grown in strength from around 20 membership organisations just over two years ago to more than 110 now and is acting on evidence of a demand from our rural communities to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health issues, after all it is everyone’s business.

Now we are seeing mental health and wellbeing coming to the top of the agenda for organisations that have long been interested in more traditional industry priorities. NFU Scotland was a founding member of the Forum and it has done much to tackle mental health and wellbeing with its members and staff.

Farm safety isn’t just about physical injuries, mental health and wellbeing must be prioritised as part of that too. It’s important that if you believe your mental health, or the mental health of someone you know, is deteriorating or at risk then you must talk to someone. There is no shame whatsoever in having mental illness, anxiety or depression and to hide it away can do more harm than good. It is after all, good to talk.

Mental illness is very broad and simply talking to someone and checking in on them may be enough. Untreated illness like physical illness, tends to worsen if there is no intervention, so the earlier someone can seek help the better.

It is encouraging to see that rural communities have now put mental health on top of their agenda and are using their networks, magazines and events to normalise talking about our mental health.

Much work is to be done, and the Forum is dedicated to working with its partners to improve mental health and wellbeing support in rural Scotland, make it an everyday discussion topic, ensure decision-makers realise and act on the fact that it does happen in rural Scotland too, and that we have a vibrant, growing network of organisations acting together to address mental health in rural Scotland.

The Forum was set up by the mental health charity Support in Mind Scotland, which supports 1,300 individuals from across Scotland every week, more than 80 per cent of whom are in rural areas. They have more than 45 years experience in looking after those experiencing mental ill health and run 17 services.

The Forum, which is supported by the Scottish Government, has public, private and third sector organisations involved, including organisations that represent many rural communities, including farming, fishing, forestry, crofting and conservation.

We need people right across the agricultural industry to prioritise their mental health as much as their physical health, support one another and talk about how they are feeling. Strain on your mental wellbeing can have devastating affects on a farm or croft and people need to speak to one another more and seek help.

  • The National Rural Mental Health Forum has been developed and run by the mental health charity, Support in Mind Scotland and is supported by the Scottish Government. Forum membership can be found at:
  • The National Rural Mental Health Forum has written this blog for NFU Scotland as part of Farm Safety Week 2019. To find out more visit
  • If publicising on social media please use the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek and tag Yellow Wellies Farm Safety Foundation.

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