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

Warning that government must act now to avoid cost-of-living suicide rise in rural communities

A new stark warning from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) reveals the true picture of mental health concerns in rural areas. 

Following a Roundtable event looking at the impact the cost-of-living crisis in rural areas is having on peoples’ mental health, BACP CEO, Anna Daroy, said:

“We know that the cost-of-living crisis will have a profoundly damaging and long-lasting effect on the mental health of farmers and those living in rural communities who already experience a unique set of challenging circumstances, unless the government acts now and invests more in counselling and psychotherapy support.

“Even before the cost-of-living crisis, male farm workers are three times more likely to take their own lives than the male national average, and every week three people in the UK farming and agricultural industry die by suicide.  Worryingly, we expect these figures to rise as the cost-of-living crisis exacerbates the longstanding challenges farmers already face – including higher living costs, known as the rural premium, increased rates of loneliness, and isolation.”

The event was the first in a series of Roundtables to help BACP understand the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on mental health across all communities.  The evidence and insights garnered through the events will be compiled into a report which will be presented to politicians next year.

Alongside the events, BACP has analysed data covering how rural communities are being adversely affected by the cost-of-living crisis. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Rural Business found that the average wage in rural areas is 7.5% lower than the urban equivalent.  At the same time, the data shows that the costs of living in rural is significantly higher than in urban areas across the whole of the UK.  BACP cite the example of rural households in 2022 spending almost £800 a year more on fuel than those in urban areas.

Ms Daroy is now calling on the government to address the situation before things get worse:

“We believe that the government’s current support package for rural communities is not enough – much more is needed to recognise the on-going impacts of the cost-of-living crisis alongside other factors such as COVID-19, Brexit, the war in Ukraine, farm succession, and labour shortages. We’re committed to increasing access to psychological therapies for those from isolated and marginalised groups and playing a leading role in this agenda.”

Nathan Shearman, Director and Clinical Lead for Care Coins – a specialist mental health service, added:

“People in rural communities are fantastic at looking after each other, but the problem is that the government leave them to get on with it when they might need professional help. Quite often people in rural communities face barriers to access mental health support, including a lack of public transport, but when these barriers are removed, we know that people will access help and support. We’ve seen people coming forward in their 60s, 70s, and 80s to talk. Counselling and therapy are great, and we need to make sure everyone has access to it.”


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