Rural charity’s course trains ‘mental health first aiders’ for Norfolk and Suffolk

The YANA Project hosted a two-day mental health first aid course for farming and rural organisations. Picture: YANA.

The YANA Project hosted a two-day mental health first aid course for farming and rural organisations. Picture: YANA.


A network of “mental health first aiders” has been forged across rural East Anglia after a training course designed to help identify common symptoms and guide people towards the right support.

The two-day mental health first aid training course was organised and funded by the YANA (You Are Not Alone) Project, a charity which provides confidential counselling for people affected by stress and depression in farming and rural industries across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Participants included Norfolk Young Farmers, Country Land and Business Association (CLA), National Farmers’ Union, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Farming Community Network, Easton and Otley College, Brown and Co, Norwich Cathedral, Norfolk tenant farmers and The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

Helen Bibby, administrator for the project, said YANA wanted to establish a “real network of people involved with the farming and rural sectors of Norfolk and Suffolk who would be trained mental health first aiders”.

“The participants formed a really cohesive team who now very much want to keep in touch fulfilling our aim to increase the collaboration concerning rural mental health between the various groups,” she said.

Duncan Slade, land agent for Norfolk County Farms, said he was grateful for the opportunity to complete the “first-class course”, adding: “I hope we can work together to reduce mental health stigma and improve outcomes for our farming and rural communities.”

Another training recipient was CLA East regional surveyor Claire Wright, who said it is crucial that people living in rural communities are aware of the support available to them if they are struggling with their mental health.

She said: “Mental health issues can creep up on anyone at any time and knowing where to turn for help is not always easy.

“People in rural areas often live in very isolated locations and don’t always seek the support that is available to them during periods of stress or depression.

“For many people in the countryside their home is often also their place of work. This can make it particularly difficult to find a way to escape daily pressures that can build up.

“That is why it is important to raise awareness of the work of YANA and other regional support groups who provide support in this area.”

The course was provided by The Healthy Work Company. The YANA Project plans to organise a similar event in Suffolk next year.

Earlier this year, the YANA Project launched a national directory of support groups aiming to help people struggling with the strains of farming and isolated rural life. It can be viewed or downloaded at the YANA website.


Samaritans: Phone 116 123, email

Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, for anyone who is struggling to cope. You can call Samaritans for free from any phone, email them or visit the website to find details of your nearest branch.

The YANA Project National Directory of Rural Support Groups.

The YANA (You Are Not Alone) Project: 0300 323 0400,

Mental health awareness, confidential support via helpline, counsellors and GPs and funding for counselling for those in farming and rural industries of Norfolk and Suffolk.

• RABI: The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution: 0808 281 9490,

Provides confidential welfare advice, practical care and financial support with compassion, discretion and friendship to those in need within the farming community.

Farming Community Network: 03000 111 999,

Supporting farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. Volunteers will “walk with you” and help you find a positive way through your problems – for as long as it is needed.


YANA advises anyone seriously concerned about someone to take action immediately:

• Contact their GP and tell them it is urgent.

• Call Samaritans 116 123.

• Take them to A&E.

• Remove means if possible.

• Stay with them.

• Show the person you genuinely care.

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