|Local farmers and their families will benefit from a new scheme designed to enable them to access mental health services more quickly and appropriately, says Jonathan Smith.|
He says "The farming community has been particularly vulnerable to all kinds of extra stress during these last 18 months of the pandemic, and we were keen to find out what practical help could be given – beyond the usual warm words and sound-bites beloved of some politicians."
"We knew of the excellent work that the Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy had been doing over the past 20 years, offering a voluntary counselling service for farmers across Cheshire. We listened to what they had to tell us, and identified a number of problems flowing from the unique life-styles and challenges of the agricultural community. One, in particular, seemed relevant to my own senior experience in health and social care: how to establish a link with the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Trust, to give much better signposting and access to professional expertise for the Chaplaincy and their families."
"Contact was made with the Trust, at a senior level, and they have been hugely supportive of the idea. It is early days, but already I understand that: help has been facilitated for a family, where one member has a serious illness; and the links being established between the two services are providing much-needed information and advice."