Samaritans’ Real People, Real Stories campaign, supported by the rail industry, aims to reach men who are struggling to cope to prevent them reaching crisis point.

The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust is supporting Samaritans’ response to coronavirus, their Real People, Real Stories campaign and Samaritans’ work in rural communities.

Samaritans is sharing new research which explores how the pandemic restrictions have affected men’s mental health and support networks, including those living in rural communities.

Nearly half (45%) of men aged 20-59 in rural communities in Great Britain agree that they have experienced feelings of anxiety during lockdown. Over half (59%) say they feel worried about the future.

Around a third (32%) of men aged 20-59 in rural communities say that talking to others helped with concerns and worries they had during lockdown, showing the importance of seeking help and getting support when they need it.

Samaritans’ campaign Real People, Real Stories aims to reach men who are struggling to cope to prevent them reaching crisis point. It features men sharing their stories of how they have overcome tough times to encourage others to seek help, by calling Samaritans for free on 116 123.

Over half (54%) of men aged 20-59 in rural communities that the charity spoke to said that they are feeling worried or anxious as restrictions continued to ease, highlighting the need for appropriate support now, so no one has to face things alone.

Morgan, Port Talbot, is a Chartered Surveyor and Agricultural Valuer and has shared his story as part of the Real People, Real Stories campaign.

“One of the biggest issues in the agricultural and allied industries is the stigma around talking about mental health. With farming historically being male dominated, people tend to keep quiet and try to get on with it. In more recent times, farmers are having to face a great deal of uncertainty and more leading to more financial and emotional pressure. I am lucky, as a result of my family farm location I’m well-connected to friends, family and the outside world. But not everyone is so fortunate. Many farmers are very isolated, geographically and technologically, suffering from a lack of mobile phone reception and broadband. How can we tackle the stigma if we aren’t prepared to openly and honestly talk about it?”

Samaritans Executive Director of External Affairs, Paul McDonald said:
“This pandemic has brought unexpected change and uncertainty, which will have a lasting impact on everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. At Samaritans we know that less well off, middle-aged men have remained the highest risk group for suicide in the UK for decades and that the restrictions put in place during lockdown such as isolation and disconnection will have exacerbated problems for these men.

“We understand the value of listening and the power of human connection, particularly at this time when so many people are dealing with overwhelming thoughts and feelings. We know that sharing stories of recovery does encourage men to seek help, so we hope that our Real People, Real Stories campaign can help other men to see that they can do it too and know that Samaritans is always there when they want to talk.”

Lindsay Sinclair, Group Chief Executive of NFU Mutual, said:
“We understand how isolation is affecting people and families, and that these services are needed now more than ever. The emotional and practical support offered by Samaritans is vital at this challenging time.

“Our members have told us that loneliness, the strain of juggling home and work and financial pressures are impacting every inch of their lives and leading to feelings of anxiety and fear.

“We wanted to help Samaritans to continue to deliver their much-needed support. The donation from The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust will help Samaritans reach those most at risk and reduce the stigma of mental health and suicide, particularly among men in agricultural industries and beyond.”

The Farming Community Network (FCN) is a national voluntary organisation and charity that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times.

The Farming Community Network Chief Executive Officer Dr Jude McCann said: “Farming is an industry where pressure and stress can negatively impact on the wellbeing of farmers. Unfortunately, loneliness, depression and anxiety are recognised as common issues and accessing support can be a challenge. People who work on farms are used to operating in isolation, but if they are experiencing challenges or displaying changes in their behaviour or temperament, there may be no one around to notice or confide in.

“It’s important that farmers make the time to look after themselves, their family and their staff. The majority of calls presenting to FCN during the Covid-19 lockdown have been stressrelated, with the virus playing a significant role in exacerbating farmers’ concerns.

Real People, Real Stories is an important campaign. In sharing real-life examples of real men struggling to cope, the campaign helps to normalise conversations and encourage men to seek help.”

Real People, Real Stories runs from 11 August to 27 September and aims to reach men aged 20-59 years and above who are feeling low and struggling to cope. Men who have found life tough, experienced depression or suicidal thoughts have written words of support to other men and these will feature in films, shared across social media, radio and TV. Find out more about Real People, Real Stories here.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,943 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd – 8th July 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB men (aged 20-59).

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