Social inclusion is defined as improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society—improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity. This project consortium has identified that those suffering from mental health issues in rural areas are in significant need of help. Rural actors with little access to mental healthcare provision are substantially more likely to commit suicide than those living in urban areas, and this is even more so the case for those suffering from socioeconomic disadvantages, learning disabilities and those in remote areas far away from service provision. There is also a considerably higher level of stigmatization around accessing mental health care services in rural areas compared to urban ones, a serious challenge which needs to be tackled in order to bring down the number of suicides in rural areas.

In that sense, this project will respond to the horizontal priority of social inclusion ensuring that vulnerable groups are able to participate in society and enter employment with support from their community. It will also address additional topics including access for disadvantaged groups; health and wellbeing – particularly in terms of improving mental wellbeing of those in rural areas, especially teenagers and workers who are particularly vulnerable – and inclusion/equity, particularly in terms of the right to equitable service provision in mental healthcare for poorer groups living in rural areas. Ultimately, this project hopes to contribute to redressing the imbalance in mental health prevention and care provision between rural and urban areas.

In response, the RURAL MENTAL HEALTH will develop an accessible online platform with training, guidance, advice and educational materials aimed at a variety of targets in rural areas including workplaces and employers; schools, youth clubs and other social clubs; rural workers; seasonal workers; farmers; farm workers; and more. The materials will include information on how to self-identify mental health issues in individuals living in rural areas, and when to seek professional help, as well as promoting and guiding potential community-based services in this area. The project will also develop and disseminate informational material to raise awareness of issues surrounding mental health (e.g. first signs, who to turn to, that you’re not alone) but also in an attempt to combat the stigma and social exclusion surrounding issues of mental health, particularly communities which are: younger; older; more remote; poorer; farmers; immigrants; refugees; seasonal workers; etc.