Living in the Countryside ... Great Isn't It?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Les Shilling MBACP, MNCS Accred.
It is said that people living in the countryside have better health and a better “lifestyle” than those living in towns, that they use health services less and enjoy the advantages the countryside brings, it’s quieter, a slower pace of life and lower crime rates.
So everyone is happy in the countryside…. Or are they?
Some of the “benefits” of living in the countryside can, on occasions, be real problems to be faced by those living in rural communities:
Less use of the health service can be simply because medical services are less accessible with most services based in urban areas, which are more densely populated; this is particularly true of any form of specialist service which can be many miles from the rural homes.
The quietness can be due to a lack of neighbours or services.
The slower pace of life because the youth, mothers with children and the elderly are restricted in their movement by limited or no public transport. Often the rural public transport doesn’t meet the needs of those living in the countryside. It is estimated that only 50% of the rural population are within 10 minutes walk from home of an at least hourly bus service.
Better “lifestyle” can hide the poverty that exists especially in more remote areas. Because poverty is spread thinly over a large area and mixed with the wealthy it can too easy be overlooked or forgotten. This unseen poverty can and does have a very real effect on the people involved. Due to inadequate public transport most rural dwellers need a car for their daily life, the cost of car ownership can add to existing financial hardship and the car is often needed to get the “breadwinner” to work, which is often some distance away due to the reducing employment opportunities locally, leaving the rest of the family isolated.
Mental health problems are often stigmatised or simply not faced up to and dealt with because people in rural communities have a real culture of self reliance so are unlikely to call upon the relevant health service even if it is available in the local urban centre. Whilst anyone can have a mental illness or problem there are some rural groups that suffer more, in particular those working in the farming industry.
Farmers and farm workers are a recognised high risk group for stress, depression and suicide as a result of the economic difficulties, very long hours and isolation they face. (Office of National Statistics Study covering 1993-2005 showed farm workers to be up to 1.5 times as likely to commit suicide than average and farmers up to 2.6 times as likely) The recent foot and mouth, avian “bird flu” and blue tongue outbreaks and restrictions simply adding to the demands and stresses placed upon them.
What can be done?
People who are struggling with difficult situations in their everyday lives need support. It is easy sometimes to lose touch with what is really important in life due to the pressures placed upon us. When people find themselves facing difficulties or problems we know something is wrong and that we need to do something about it but what?
A visit to the GP surgery might result in a prescription for anti-depressants or “something to help you sleep” but does that solve the problem?
We all know that at these times it can be difficult to talk to family and friends about these worries and problems, for fear of upsetting them or increasing the pressures already upon them, and yet we need to talk to someone who will be understanding, accepting and not judge us to enable us to decide what to do
Counselling can provide this supportive process whereby you are given the space and safety to share your concerns.
A counsellor’s aim is to support you in gaining a greater understanding of what it is to be you and how to create positive changes in your life