The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

1 in 4 people can experience mental illness in their lifetime

Everyone should have access to the support and resources they need to help with their mental health, know how to notice signs in other people’s mental health, and tackle stigma. Change Mental Health knows that everyone has mental health and that 1 in 4 people can experience mental illness in their lifetime.

Many underrepresented groups face stigma and discrimination every day, particularly people living in rural communities. Around 17% of our population live in rural communities.

Stigma is still an issue. Change Mental Health research explored living with poor mental health in rural Scotland. Lack of anonymity can lead to people being reticent about seeking help at an early stage. People are reluctant to access mental health services in their community due to fear of discrimination. Some communities are supportive while others are judgmental.

We know that more people experience fuel poverty in rural areas compared to urban neighbours, There are lower wage economies and digital connectivity can be patchy. This can further social isolation when infrastructure is poor and costs become a barrier. People prefer face-to-support, which is often lacking. A focus group participant in a recent report highlighted that if you live in a rural community, there are no services available. They added: “You try to access the services where they are available but you’re up against a brick wall.”

The problem is exacerbated by transport being an issue in rural areas – often there is no public transport, or it is extremely limited, making it more difficult for people to access services, which could be long distances away from their home and can worsen social isolation.

When people do have access to mental health services within their community, they can have long waiting lists that could mean there is little chance of early intervention and may lead people to the point of crisis or distress.

What can we do? Change Mental Health raises awareness of rural mental health not just through 80% of the people they support living in rural Scotland, but through the National Rural Mental Health Forum – a strong, dedicated network driving change to enable rural people to be open about their mental health. With 230+ membership organisations from third, private and public sectors. The Forum hosts regular seminars from guests and organisations across rural Scotland and beyond to discuss key topics and issues related to mental health and wellbeing in rural Scotland. The Forum creates a solid evidence base for what works to improve people’s lives while influencing policy.

There’s a necessity to raise awareness, reduce stigma and build resilience in rural Scotland. People need to be supported within their own communities in low level, non-clinical settings and having bespoke support is required, as individuals need different ways of being supported.

If you need support with your mental health, contact Samaritans anytime on 116 123.

National Rural Mental Forum
Change Mental Health
Marginalised Rural Communities Report
National Rural Mental Health Survey


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