Royal Marines to deliver mental health training to Scotland’s ag sector

Former members of the Royal Marines have embarked on a campaign to deliver mental health first aid training to organisations within Scotland’s agricultural sector.

The training, which is being rolled out as part of a joint venture between the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (Rsabi) and IED Training Solutions, a consultancy founded by former Royal Marine Ian Clark, offers participants the chance to gain certification in first aid for mental health and mental health awareness.

Carol McLaren, Rsabi chief executive, said: “There are many synergies between the Royal Marines and farming – from working in all weathers and challenging terrain to antisocial hours, time away from family, and public scrutiny.

See also: Agronomist runs 268 miles for Farming Community Network

“This initiative comes at a time when there are some really encouraging green shoots of change, as farmers and others working in agriculture become more open about talking about mental health and the steps needed to maintain and improve it.”

Training courses

So far, seven courses have been run, five of which were delivered to staff from Food Integrity Assurance, which carries out assessments on behalf of Quality Meat Scotland and Scottish Quality Crops. 

Major Hugh Jones, who served as a Royal Marine for 35 years, is leading the training. He said: “It’s very important for farmers to recognise when they are starting to feel stressed and that they know about coping strategies such as taking a break, eating healthily and taking regular exercise.

“These steps can have an immensely positive effect on an individual.”

As part of the training, Major Jones advises on symptoms to look out for when visiting farmers or crofters, including small changes that could indicate that something is wrong.

“Don’t hesitate to ask them how they are. Say if they don’t seem themselves and you are worried, and above all be kind – you wouldn’t believe how much impact that can have,” said Major Jones. 

Rsabi provides support to members of the Scottish agricultural community, including emotional and financial advice, and a free counselling service. You can find more information on mental health first aid training on the Rsabi website.

Grief and bereavement training 

Farming charity the DPJ Foundation has launched a series of training sessions to help farming families cope with grief and bereavement.

The short course is free to attend and is funded by the Welsh government’s Bereavement Support Fund. It aims to help people in the rural community cope with the effects of losing a close friend or family member, deal with resulting poor mental health, and to spread support and awareness.

Kay Helyar, the charity’s training manager, said: “Bereavement is something that will affect us all at some point during our lives.

“It’s a sad fact that sudden death, from traumatic events, such as suicide or an accident, affect farming families much too often, with the impact rippling out far into the surrounding community.”

The courses will take place online with a selection of dates to choose from, and places can be booked on the DPJ website