By Neale McQuistin

New research will explore which interventions can best support the mental health and wellbeing of people in Scotland’s farming and crofting communities.

Led by the University of Stirling and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the study will explore the preferences of farming and crofting people and at the same time establish their views, up-take and acceptability of two possible interventions.

One will deliver emotional and social support – including financial advice – and the other will be an online psychological therapy, which has been specifically developed for the farming and crofting community.

Four-fifths of farmers under the age of 40 consider mental health to be the biggest hidden problem facing the agricultural community. Depression in farmers is increasing and suicide rates are among the highest in any occupational group. It is currently estimated that one agricultural worker per week takes their own life.

Margaret Maxwell, professor of health services and mental health research at the University of Stirling, said: “The underlying reasons for poor mental health among the farming and crofting community lies in the unique social, environmental and economic challenges of rural food production, therefore an intervention that is targeted towards helping farmers and crofters cope with these issues may be more acceptable and beneficial.

“We know that farmers are more likely to turn to their own communities for support. However, there is no current knowledge concerning preferences, and acceptability or up-take, of remote interventions and how these can best be signposted to farmers and crofters.”

Market round-up

Messrs Craig Wilson sold 1,211 hoggs at Newton Stewart yesterday to average 270p/kg (+6p). Top price of £131 was achieved for a pen of heavyweight Texels, while lightweight Roussins lead per kilo at 296p.

Four hundred and eighty-six Blackface hoggs averaged 267p or £107 selling to £126 for a pen of 13 and £124 for a pen of 74. Top per kilo in the Blackface hoggs was a pen of 27 that cashed in at 279p/kg. Trade for cast sheep saw a rise with a top £127 for Suffolks with hill ewes peaking at £83 for Cheviots.

C&D Auctions sold 70 cattle at its weekly sale of primestock in Dumfries yesterday. Prime cattle sold to 248p/kg, while OTMs peaked at £1,286 and 147p/kg for Limousins. Dairy types peaked at £1,127 and 122p for Holsteins.

The firm also sold 628 prime hoggs which were a buoyant trade compared to last week. Top prices were £134 for heavy cheviots and the same for heavy Texels, while top price per kilo was 310p for lightweights. There were 232 hoggets sold weighing between 39 and 45kg to average 283p/kg.

The 268 cast sheep peaked at £110 for Texels, while Blackfaces sold to £89.