Farmers: Mental Health Services

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 28 February 2024.

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Photo of Neil Hudson Neil Hudson Conservative, Penrith and The Border

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help support farmers with their mental health and wellbeing.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra recognises the vital work the charity sector is already doing to support farmers who are struggling to cope with the pressures of farming. Initiatives include in-person counselling support for farmers, crisis helplines, online services, mental health training for the farming sector and other outreach events designed to reach more farmers in need. Defra also established the Farmer Welfare Forum to bring together England's largest farming welfare organisations to ensure that Defra is fully informed on farmer wellbeing challenges.

The Prime Minister recently announced that Defra is exploring options to work with and support charitable organisations over the next 12 months. A share of £500,000 will be awarded to a number of farmer welfare charities to support their vital work in 2024/25. The main objective is to partner with charities that focus on farmer wellbeing, particularly those that help farming people struggling with stress, anxiety and/or depression and are in the most remote or hard to reach areas.

In addition, we are already providing expert business support to farmers under the Farming Resilience Fund. One of the key required outcomes for the Resilience Fund is that farmers’ mental health and wellbeing are supported, where required. Some delivery providers are offering this support from in-house experts and others are signposting support available from specialist external services. The Resilience Fund runs until March 2025 and any Basic Payment Scheme recipient in England is eligible to receive support. Further information is available on the GOV.UK website.

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