Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), a farming mental health charity, announced on Wednesday April 17, that it would be increasing its spending on mental health services by £10 million over the next five years. 

RABI’s pledge was made as it launched its year-long “Empowering the Worth and Wellbeing of Farming People initiative”, while it was joined by around 100 politicians, opinion formers and farming sector leaders.

The initiative by the RABI aims to deepen engagement with partners and bring together the agricultural sector to find solutions to increase the mental resilience of the farming community.

It also aims to focus on ensuring parliamentarians are aware of the mental health challenges facing farming people by making sure their voices are heard. 

RABI’s chief executive, Alicia Chivers said:

“RABI see it as imperative that a more preventative approach to mental health and wellbeing is implemented, helping people talk about, and tackle problems long before they become crises.”

The charity has pledged to increase its focus on mental wellbeing programmes for young people and discuss and develop locally delivered wellbeing solutions that achieve results.

During the launch event, it was reported by the RABI that many industry organisations also pledged their support, including: 

  • National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs pledged to use RABI’s Click & Chat mental wellbeing platform, the hope is this will be rolled out to thousands of Young Farmer Club members aged 11 and over;
  • Farm Safety Foundation pledged to work with RABI to introduce a new mental health training programme in agricultural colleges;
  • The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture (TIAH) pledged to work with RABI on a bursary scheme. RABI will provide 500 bursary-supported memberships.

Speaking at the event, Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries, Sir. Mark Spencer said he was “pleased to see a growing awareness” of mental health in farming and thanked RABI for the work it is doing.

The minister also pledged to undertake the mental health training and that his department will be 100% behind the farming community.

“I know first-hand the stress that come with farming and looking out for the welfare of those within the industry, and those who you care deeply about is something that we can all do,” he said.

RABI is inviting people from all walks of life to pledge to recognise and support the importance of empowering the worth and wellbeing of farming people.

RABI added that taking the pledge may be a “small step to take” as individuals, but collectively, the pledges will raise awareness of the issues that farming people face and the invaluable support that the RABI provides.