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Rural Life and Men's Mental Health

Content Warning: Discussion of suicide and mental health

Mental health charity Samaritans recently launched their #RealPeopleRealStories campaign, featuring some real heart-wrenching accounts of men living in rural communities who have struggled with suicidal thoughts.

One that particularly caught our eye was that of Sam, a young man living in a rural area whose mental health had been particularly affected by his agricultural workplace and his isolated environment.

Because Cumbria is a rural place, mental health, particularly men's mental health can feel as though it is swept under the rug, despite being as real and as serious as ever.

It's estimated that the male suicide rate in 2020 was 15.3 per 100,000 people compared to the female suicide rate of 4.9 per 100,000 people- which is a shockingly high statistic.

In rural places in particular not knowing whom to turn to is one of the biggest barriers to seeking support with only 36% of the referrals to NHS talking therapies being for men.

This is why it is so so important for our Cumbrian men to know where they can go to seek help locally.

But it also begs the obvious question, why don’t men talk about mental health?

For Sam, 32, a grower and wholesaler of field vegetables from Selby, Yorkshire his mental health living and working in a rural area brings generational challenges:

"There are lots of unique things that the farming community faces; the divide between young and old generations and ways of working, working for and with your family business and then working for others can be a transition of expectations, sometimes there’s a toxic environment when it comes to talking about mental health and wellbeing."

The stigma around men's mental health is so overwhelming that it is more likely for men to turn to harmful coping methods such as drugs or alcohol rather than seeking support from people around them. They may also use escapist behaviour, like engrossing themselves in work.

As a result, because men are much less likely to open up in a rural area, they are more at risk of missing out on getting support that could be life-saving.

In light of this, Sam added: “I think when you come from a rural community, a farming background, you think somebody isn’t going to understand your problem. And, I think that isn’t true. The more you go out and talk to people, the more you realise, actually, whatever background you come from, we all face similar problems, not necessarily for the same reasons, but similar issues."

“To anyone that’s struggling with their mental health, I’d say it’s never too late to talk.”

If you are struggling with your mental health, or feel affected by any of the topics mentioned in this article, we urge you to seek help from those around you and to reach out to a service that can help you.

We've featured 2 Cumbrian services at the bottom of this article that you can reach out to in order to get support, if you need help immediately, please see the contacts below.

If you need to talk to someone now:

For the Samaritans: call 116 123 at any time

The Self Injury Helpline: call 0808 800 8088

Papyrus (Under 30) is at or call its Hopeline on 0800 068 4141

Cumbrian services:

North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network:


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