More farmers accessing Rabi online service for mental health

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (Rabi) online wellbeing and counselling platform has seen increasing numbers of individuals seeking support and a 65% return rate, as farming people access the wellbeing resources multiple times. 

Since its launch in October 2020, the farming charity says about two-thirds access the online site outside of normal office hours – suggesting the need for round-the-clock, flexible support for farming folk, who work long, unpredictable hours.

“The use of this new online service over the first year confirms how vital early, preventative and confidential support is to our community,” said Kathleen Chapman, Rabi’s interim director of services.

See also: Analysis: The grim state of mental health in agriculture

The online and text-based service offers free, anonymous resources to adults and young people from the farming community across England and Wales. In addition, there are articles and forums provided by Qwell.

“[This] complements the fantastic support delivered by our regional teams on the ground,” added Mrs Chapman.

While the site has supported a wide age range in the first year of operation, around a quarter of those using it regularly are aged 56 and over.

Correlating with the findings from the recent Big Farming Survey regarding poor mental wellbeing among women in the farming community, farming women account for more than 60% of visitors.

The five most discussed issues with counsellors have been: family relationships, anxiety and stress, suicidal thoughts, self-worth and loneliness. 

Tackle stigmas

Breaking down barriers, including the continued stigma attached to discussing mental health and wellbeing, and ensuring access to professional support is available for farming people whenever and wherever it is needed, remain top priorities for Rabi. 

“The poor experiences described in the recent Big Farming Survey findings must not continue and Rabi remains committed to ensuring farming people have access to the services and tools they deserve to empower them to move forwards positively,” said Mrs Chapman. 

Rabi’s wellbeing support services will be further bolstered by the introduction of additional in-person counselling and training, which will launch early in the new year. 

If you or someone you know might benefit from support, visit Rabi’s website.

Alternatively, call the confidential freephone helpline on 0800 188 4444.