Rural communities keep their mental health problems to themselves

Friday, 17 February 2017

One in five people from rural communities keep their mental health problems to themselves because they don’t know anyone that would understand.

Of the people we surveyed from rural communities who said they struggled with their mental health:

  • 1 in 5 (19%) keep it to themselves because they don’t know anyone that would understand
  • Over half (52%) don’t speak about it because they wouldn’t want to burden someone with their problems
  • In comparison, over 80 per cent (81%) said that they feel good about themselves when they are there for people they care about

Research out today from the mental health charity Mind¹ has found one in five of people from rural areas who have struggled with their mental health keep it to themselves because they don’t know anyone that would understand (19%).

Over half (52%) of the people Mind talked to admitted that they didn’t open up about their mental health problems because they didn’t want to burden someone with their problems. On the other hand, over 80 per cent (81%) of the people that we surveyed said that they feel good about themselves when they are there for people they care about.

Peer support groups offer a space to share experiences of mental health problems and Solent Mind has been running several such groups locally in Hampshire. For the last two years, Mind has been working with Bipolar UK and piloted peer support projects funded by Big Lottery, including groups which have been run in Southampton and the New Forest. This programme has been exploring the benefits of peer support, which is support given and received on an equal basis by people who share something in common, for people with mental health problems.

One such example of local peer support in action is regular peer-led swimming groups that take place in the New Forest, run by Solent Mind, where people with a mental health issues meet together for an informal swim, giving them the chance to chat with others who have had similar experiences and can offer understanding and empathy. This can also give people the opportunity to get some exercise which boosts wellbeing but can be daunting for people who are feeling isolated or anxious to do alone. A range of other groups and activities also run across Southampton and the New Forest including walking, breakfast and craft groups all run by and for people with experience of a mental health issue.

Mind has also launched an online resource called ‘Making sense of peer support’ (available online at mind.org.uk/peersupportinfo) which includes advice on where to find local peer support groups. Mind also has an online support community, Elefriends (https://www.elefriends.org.uk/ ), which offers a platform for participants to share and talk about feelings.

Clare Grant, Peer Support Development Officer for Solent Mindsays, “Sharing a problem with someone who has been through the same thing can help lighten the load. This is particularly true when you experience a difficulty with your mental health, which is why we at Solent Mind believe so strongly in the development of peer support. For many people who face a mental health issue, the experience can frightening and isolating. The power of peer support can make a huge difference – giving people hope and inspiration and the chance to turn those difficult experiences into an asset to support and be supported by other people who genuinely understand.” Solent Mind runs a wide programme of peer-led support and activities across the local area as well as offering free training and support to other organisations looking to develop peer-led projects. Find out more: http://www.solentmind.org.uk/content/peer-support

¹ Polling was conducted by Populus who interviewed a nationally representative sample of 536 UK adults from rural areas between 9 and 13 December 2016.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk