A team of officers from Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards are receiving mental health ‘first aid’ training to improve the support they can offer rural businesses and farmers.
The training is part of an initiative aimed at helping officers to recognise the signs of mental illness in order to raise awareness and provide businesses with valuable signposting to support services.
According to the Farming Community Network (FCN) nearly half of all calls made to their helpline between July and October last year were related to mental health and 56 per cent of all calls last April related to Covid-19.
The pandemic has remained a source of concern for the farming community since then.
The training will be delivered by MHFA England (Mental Health First Aid), and will equip officers with the skills and confidence they need to help business owners during the course of their work and also support their own personal wellbeing.
The work is part of a wider project aimed at helping rural businesses by highlighting the stigma surrounding mental health and to help publicise the support and guidance available.
Last year Trading Standards hosted a successful series of free online webinars, bringing together support organisations and rural groups to promote mental health and wellbeing in the farming community.
The next online webinar will be held on Tuesday 23 February at 6pm and will include speakers from the Gay Farmer Helpline, an Accredited CBT Therapist, Market Chaplin, Farming Community Network and Kingsbridge Young Farmers.
Each organisation will focus on the importance of mental health and wellbeing, highlighting what help is available and where to get support.
Mark Peacock, Business Support & Innovation Manager at Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards, said: “The importance of mental health and wellbeing and its impact on businesses and staff is as critical now as ever before. One of our priorities this year is to raise awareness, train our staff to identify the signs and help signpost our rural businesses to find help.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for the Economy Skills and Training said: “The ongoing Covid-19 crisis and increasing industry pressures mean that farmers and rural businesses are under pressure more than ever.
“Farming can be a challenging way of life. Find out how you can support your wellbeing and get the right help when you need it at our seminar. Contributions to the seminar are welcome but there’s no requirement to engage if you don’t want to. If you have been struggling please join us and just listen if you wish.”
Go to Eventbrite website to book. If you can’t make it, register anyway and you will receive a recording after the event.