Cheshire Community Action has released findings from a survey of rural mental health needs across Cheshire and Warrington. The survey found that mental health problems have increased significantly since the start of the pandemic and rural communities are experiencing multiple barriers to accessing mental health support. 

The survey was sent out to all Cheshire and Warrington Parish and Town Councils, and Community Buildings including Village Halls to research what mental health support is needed and how access to services can be improved.

The key findings from the survey:

Survey respondents commented:

“Being able to talk to someone who understands is vital. The need for mental health support should be treated as an urgent need for those who need help.”

Anonymous response, Rural Mental Health Survey

Key findings from a review of mental health data from other organisations in the public and voluntary sectors:

  • Low visibility of mental health service in rural communities can lead to culture of self-reliance which can prevent people from seeking support earlier, instead only seeking support when they have already reached ‘crisis’ stage.
  • Higher suicide rates amongst farmers and rural vets.
  • Increased digital and social isolation amongst young people.
  • Lack of face-to-face services in rural areas.
  • Long waiting lists.
  • Access issues due to poor broadband and transport in rural areas.
  • There is better overall health in rural areas.
  • More and better utilisation of online offers/interventions.

“It’s a huge problem that is often not addressed adequately and treats the symptoms rather than the cause. In my experience if you’re in crisis you don’t feel well enough to access the services available and when you are more stable, you are not seen as serious enough to warrant help. Preventing individuals from crisis would be a good use of investment but it requires doctors/therapists time to actually spend with patients and work out tailored support.”

Anonymous response, Rural Mental Health Survey

Our engagement with partners and stakeholders has shown that there are many initiatives taking place to support people with mental health issues – such as a new mental health trained youth workers being employed, residents undertaking mental health first aid training for both adults and young people or developing community centres into fully functioning well-being hubs.

Part of Cheshire Community Action’s role is to help people in rural communities to access the services they need, and develop services to help meet those needs. Therefore, the Cheshire Community Action Board and staff team have been developing a strategy to articulate the findings of our research, identify what support is already available, and develop solutions with stakeholders to help improve access to mental health support in rural areas.

To find out more about Cheshire Community Action’s Rural Mental Health Strategy, please contact Mark Reading: