Rural dwellers are ‘susceptible to isolation’, claims study

One in four people living in rural areas have difficulties discussing their personal problems, according to a survey commissioned by an association representing counsellors and psychotherapists.

Rural dwellers are ‘susceptible to isolation’, claims study

The survey, carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of the Irish Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, shows that men living in rural areas and members of the farming community are susceptible to isolation as the poll indicates they have difficulties discussing their personal problems.

While 25% of respondents who are members of the farming community said they had difficulties discussing their personal problems, the figure was 14% of respondents in urban areas.

Some 7% of respondents to the national survey were men in rural areas, who overwhelmingly said that they didn’t have anyone that they could share their problems with.

Spokesman for the counselling group Shane Kelly described the findings as worrying.

“There is a clear link between loneliness and depression and this can lead to more people experiencing anxieties or feeling depressed,” Mr Kelly said.

“Loneliness and isolation can also exacerbate feelings of fear and this is all the more concerning due to the fact that rural crime is on the increase.”

Mr Kelly advised people living in rural areas to call around to their neighbour’s house, especially in the evenings, to check if they needed help with small chores. He also advised calling friends and family members in rural areas regularly to stay in contact which, he said, would help people feel connected and not as fearful.

He also said people who live on their own in rural areas should not isolate themselves and, where possible, should accept any invitations from their family and friends to attend events.

“This kind of contact can make all the difference,” said Mr Kelly. “If you are aware of a neighbour or family member that may be alone, consider inviting them over for a chat, dinner or to share in a family event as they may be too shy to ask.”

The survey of 1,016 adults also found a quarter of all adults are stressed by money. This is generally more prevalent between 35 and 64. Only 39% of men said they had ever talked to friend about stress or depression, compared to 58% of women.

The counselling group also advised people who felt isolated to talk about their feelings to family or friends or to contact a caring professional such as a counsellor or psychotherapist, which are listed on www.iacp.ie.

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