One year on from its launch in 2020, RABI’s online wellbeing and counselling platform (Qwell) has seen increasing numbers of individuals seeking support and a 65% return rate, as farming people access the wellbeing resources multiple times.

Review of the first 12-months utilisation of this new service confirms that the availability of online mental health support is a valuable tool for many within the farming sector, with the number of interactive sessions with the BACP accredited counsellors increasing across the year, as people gained confidence investigating the support available.

“The use of this new online service over the first year confirms how vital early, preventative and confidential support is to our community,” says Kathleen Chapman, RABI’s interim director of services. “The availability of the bespoke online and text-based service, in addition to the articles and forums provided by Qwell, provides farming people with the access to support whenever they are ready and complements the fantastic support delivered by our regional teams on the ground.”

“Unsurprisingly around two-thirds of individuals access the site outside of normal ‘office hours’,” continues Mrs Chapman. “This highlights the importance of round-the-clock, flexible support, as we know that farming people work unpredictable and long hours.”

More surprisingly, whilst the site has supported a wide age range in the first year of operation, around a quarter of those using the site regularly are 56 and over. Correlating with the findings from the recent Big Farming Survey regarding poor mental wellbeing amongst women in the farming community, farming women account for over 60% of visitors to the site.

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

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 across England and Wales whenever and wherever it is needed remain top priorities for RABI.

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

“There is no single solution when it comes to developing improved farmer wellbeing and building greater resilience in our community. This is why RABI is focusing on providing access to a range of farmer bespoke, professionally supported services, in addition to the financial and practical support and benefits advice the charity is so well known for already.

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

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