Farmers, medical professionals and representatives of support agencies have come together in a groundbreaking Twitter discussion on mental health issues in the countryside.
The debate on the social networking site saw people with first-hand experience of the subject, along with those concerned about others, share experiences, give advice and suggest useful sources of support.
Contributing to the event, which took place on the evening of 18 October, included Norman Lamb MP, minister for social care; Glyn Evans of Farm Crisis Network; rural psychiatrist Dr David Middleton; and Karen Messruther of RSABI Gatepost.
In all, it featured 130 participants, tweeting 1,158 times and reaching a potential audience of 173,000 followers.
“There were lots of new faces and appeared to be several people who had set up Twitter accounts especially for it,” said the AgriChatUK organisers.
“The response was absolutely brilliant – people seemed to find it really useful, and although it was sad to hear that so many people had or were suffering from mental health problems, it was great that so many felt able to start to talk about it,” they added.
Professor Louis Appleby, an adviser to government on mental health and widely regarded as the UK expert on suicide prevention, tweeted: “I’m really impressed by what I’ve seen tonight – determination to tackle the problem.”
The Twitter debate was organised with the support of Farmers Weekly, keen to raise awareness of high suicide rates in the farming community.
AgriChatUK discussions on a different subject each week takes place on Twitter every Thursday between 8pm and 10pm. You can read what others are saying, or you might like to join in with your own comments and experiences.
Just follow @AgriChatUK or search under the hashtag #agrichatuk