SUPPORT in Mind Scotland and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have joined forces to run a survey to discover what it’s like to live with mental ill health in the country’s rural areas.

This is the first time such a survey has been carried out, focusing specifically on people’s own experiences throughout rural Scotland.

Rural areas can be idyllic places to live, but it is also the case that people in rural Scotland suffer from mental ill health and the effects of isolation.

Through this survey, the charity is trying to find out how “rural” affects daily life, including using public transport, accessing services, and being part of small communities.

Support in Mind Scotland and SRUC are also asking for people’s ideas for rural service delivery and what they want to tell Scotland’s policy-makers.

Frances Simpson, Chief Executive of Support in Mind Scotland, said: “Much of our work takes place in rural areas, but what we don’t have is a picture of what it’s like living with mental ill health across the whole of rural Scotland. This survey will help us to shape our services as well as give better evidence to policy makers

“We want to know whether issues and concerns keep coming up, and what ideas people have for addressing the challenges they face. We’re aware that being in a rural area has benefits too – and we’re keen to find out what these are.”

She added: “In order to hear from as many people as possible, we’re hosting the survey on our Support in Mind Scotland website and we’ll be making sure that people who don’t have access to computers or the internet can fill it in on paper.”

Professor Sarah Skerratt, Director of SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre, and coordinator of the study for SRUC, said: “We are really pleased to have this opportunity to work with Support in Mind Scotland, to enhance our understanding of mental ill health in rural areas.

“Through our meetings with other charities and bodies, we are aware of challenges facing the farming community. We also know – anecdotally – that mental health issues are present amongst the wider rural population. What we don’t yet have is systematic evidence across rural Scotland; this survey will help to paint a more accurate picture.”

Two workshops held in June, with providers and users of mental health services, gave some important insights. It is hoped the survey will add more depth through people describing their day-to-day experiences of living in rural Scotland with mental ill health.

“We will publish the findings of the survey in the winter of 2016/17,” explained Professor Skerratt. “We will work with Support in Mind Scotland to organise round table discussions to bring the results to the attention of stakeholders and decision-makers at national level, as part of the charity’s ongoing work to raise awareness of mental ill health in rural Scotland.”

Take the survey by clicking the link HERE