UP until last year, little was known about how people with mental ill health across rural Scotland experience their day-to-day lives. That changed when Support in Mind Scotland joined forces with Scotland's Rural college last autumn, to carry out a survey across all parts of Scotland which asked people who experience mental ill health to explain what it's like living in rural Scotland today.

This survey, for the first time, gave hundreds of people a voice. Those experiencing mental health issues said that connecting locally is really important, and that ordinary links with people in their community play a key role in helping to overcome stigma, isolation and remoteness.

Connecting people in their communities is something that the new National Rural Mental Health Forum is seeking to do. Jim Hume, manager of the Forum for Support in Mind Scotland, said: "The research findings from the rural mental health survey now give us the evidence to help us tackle mental ill health in rural Scotland. We know that one in four Scots suffer mental ill health at some point of their lives, and now we know that tackling mental ill health in rural Scotland has its own challenges.

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"Mental ill health can be more difficult to tackle in remote parts of Scotland, due to isolation, transport issues and stigma. The National Rural Mental Health Forum is in a unique position to help rural communities tackle mental ill health through the outreach of the rural organisation members of the Forum, the expertise of mental health organisation members and this ground-breaking research.

"Mental ill health can be prevented and can be treated, especially with early intervention. The Forum and its members are keen to take action by raising awareness in rural communities and normalising talking about mental ill health."

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick, who sits on the National Rural Mental Health Forum said: "Studies are finally beginning to expose the real impact that the pressures of modern day farming and rural living can have on the mental health of Scotland's farmers and crofters." He went on to stress: "The survey results must act as a platform to tackle the stigma that still exists around mental health in a traditional industry like farming."

Market round-up

Harrison & Hetherington Ltd sold 170 store heifers in Lockerbie on Tuesday to a top of 282p per kg and an average of 227p, while 132 store bullocks peaked at 273p and levelled at 232.9p.

Wallets Marts sold 237 prime hoggs in Castle Douglas on Wednesday to a top of £90 per head and 190.5p per kg to average £69.60 and 172.1p (-0.5p on the week).