#KeepTalking campaign welcomed 

Iain Gray MSP has welcomed a new campaign encouraging farmers and others working in agriculture to take care of their mental health.

Launched by agriculture sector support charity, RSABI, auctioneers around the country have been recruited as ambassadors for the campaign which kicks off on Saturday 23 May, the date when the Fife Show was due to take place.

The campaign is also timed to coincide with this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week and comes at the end of the main period of calving, lambing and other spring work.

It will actively encourage farmers, crofters and others involved in agriculture to make the time to pick up the phone, or chat online, to connect with other people. It will run until 22 June, the final day of what would have been the week of the Royal Highland Show.

A National #KeepTalking Day is also being held on Thursday 18 June, when RSABI and the campaign’s partners, ambassadors and supporters will be encouraging everyone to make a call to someone they have not spoken with in the past six months.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Even in normal times, working in the agricultural sector can be an isolating experience as the increasingly mechanised nature of farm work has drastically reduced the workforce. However, while farming has largely continued as usual under lockdown, many in the sector will start to feel the impact as the markets and shows traditionally held from now through the summer don’t take place.

“Coupled with the general uncertainty faced by most businesses and families at this time, it is important that farmers and others in the sector take care of their mental wellbeing and stay connected to friends and family. The #KeepTalking campaign will encourage this and help to support those working in agriculture through this difficult time.”

RSABI chief executive Nina Clancy said:

“When the adrenalin rush of spring work is past we are concerned that people working in agriculture may find themselves feeling more isolated and exposed.

“In some respects, many farmers and crofters will have been shielded to a degree from the lifestyle changes due to Covid-19 which others have felt, as they have been so engrossed in spring work. However, it is now when they would usually be getting out to auction markets and agricultural shows around the country, and are this year not able to, that they may really feel the impact.”

RSABI is encouraging everyone working in Scotland’s agriculture sector to engage with the campaign. The charity’s helpline service is available every day on 0300 111 4166 to offer support and advice and further information about its work and the campaign can be found at www.rsabi.org.uk/Home-Page