Today across Europe many people suffering from mental distress in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, UK, Austria, Belgium and Slovenia are prescribed agriculture work where they acquire new skills and gain increased confidence while farmers get paid for providing a health service and benefit from additional labour power.
Holland has about 1200 social (care) farms that are a fully integrated part of the health service but here in
Ireland social (care) farming is still a relatively new concept.
Ireland was trailing behind other European countries in introducing social (care) farms as a treatment for mental health recovery. But since 2012 we have taken big steps to move forward through the latest cross border pilot programme called ‘Social Farming Across Borders’ (SoFAB) @lairdhse06
Twenty working farms, (10 North & 10 South) have just completed that pilot with a further 60 farmers in training.
Further information from SoFAB at http://www.socialfarmingacrossborders.org
I believe places like Blissberry Social Farm and fellow SoFAB. Farming pilots have a future role to play and could support people with mental health problems. It could also help rural regeneration and break down the stigma and isolation surrounding mental health problems in rural communities.