“Get outside,” our parents used to tell us. “Some fresh air’ll do you good.”
Access to nature has long been known to be beneficial for people’s mental health, it can even be prescribed, called green social prescribing. However, green surroundings do not outweigh the desolation felt when one is isolated, a characteristic that is inherent in rural living.
Precisely this isolation both causes and worsens mental health outcomes for adults and children: Isolation or any other life factor might trigger mental illness – depression or anxiety, for example – and the victim cannot access mental health care because they are so isolated. This situation only spirals, unless something interrupts the process.
Government and rural mental health in 2023
In May 2023, the House of Commons Committee reported ”unquantifiable negative pressures on mental well-being within rural communities and amongst farmers, farm workers, and veterinary surgeons,” to the government, which allowed the government two months to respond, before July 18th.
In a country where farmers and vets have faced mass culls inevitably causing trauma, rural workers need more help. And driving a tractor around Parliament Square to “raise awareness” isn’t going to cut it when we need real action for rural communities.
This year MPs expressed “deep concern about how isolation, poor public transport, and a relative lack of digital connectivity have contributed to poor mental health outcomes for all categories of people across rural communities.”
Stopping the mental health spiral
The Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has set aside millions to expand access to green and blue spaces for those living in city centres, but has yet to announce facilities helping the other side of the coin – isolated persons living in rural areas.
It might, at this stage, be sensible to predict the government will place the onus onto the private sector, therefore. The government is already expected to release legislation that will impact the voluntary social enterprise sector, obliging companies to be more inclusive and offer a more equitable service to their employees and clients.
Are you doing enough for mental health as a company?
Pizza Fridays are reactive. Mental health care is proactive. Perhaps you already offer apps and access to free therapy to employees. Do your employees located outside of cities have the same access to in-person therapy? In-person psychotherapy enables more treatment modalities that are not possible during online therapy. For this reason, it’s fair and just that all employees have the option.
A smart strategist prepares in advance. A kind leader cares for their people. If you are both our CEO is offering business diagnoses to eligible companies in the United Kingdom.
“I’m all about holistic help for businesses, the whole-self approach. You tell me what's worked, what hasn't, and what you want. I'll propose a way to improve your business through issue resolution and mental health solutions,” says Melanie Costas.
Reach out to our team to sponsor, support, or receive advisory services from Rural Mental Health Matters.