An investigation into the reasons for the under utilisation of mental health services amongst farmers
Objectives: To contribute to the U.K. research literature on psychological morbidity and helpseeking in farmers, and to explore factors involved in their use of mental health care, using the constructs of alexithymia and somatisation.;Design: A within-subjects survey design employing retrospective self-report was utilised to examine relationships between alexithymia, somatisation, health care utilisation and helpseeking attitudes. Method: A total of 54 male owner/tenant farmers between 18 and 65 years were recruited via the National Farmers' Union and Young Farmers Clubs. Participants completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Use of Healthcare questionnaire, Farming Life questionnaire, Medical Problems and Complaints questionnaire and the Helpseeking questionnaire. Data was analysed using chi-square, correlations, and multiple regression.;Results: The sample demonstrated elevated levels of psychological morbidity compared to normative samples. Participants were not found to be significantly alexithymic, and no associations were found between alexithymia and health care utilisation. Farmers were no more likely to seek help from family members than external sources, and their reported reasons for helpseeking delay/avoidance were not associated without he use of G.P or outpatient psychotherapy. No significant predictors were found for G.P. utilisation, but isolation was found to be a significant predictor of psychological morbidity.;Conclusions: Participants' high levels of psychological morbidity corroborate previous findings in the U.S. and U.K. Other findings are discordant with existing research, posing more questions regarding farmers' use of rural primary healthcare and helpseeking behaviour. More research is required to examine systemic factors in healthcare use and to explain the relationship between alexithymia and somatisation, using more robust measures of somatisation. Recommendations are put forward to broaden future study to incorporate systemic factors within rural primary care.