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Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid for Gamekeepers

Introduction: Gamekeepers and Mental Health

Gamekeepers in Scotland face unique mental health stressors and challenges which, due to their work environment and responsibilities, can contribute to higher levels of stress and mental health issues. Key stressors include isolation, long working hours, physical demands, unpredictable work schedules, public scrutiny, animal welfare concerns, financial pressures, harsh weather conditions, bureaucracy, conflict resolution, and mental health stigma. It’s essential for those in the Gamekeeping profession to prioritise self-care, seek support from colleagues and loved ones, and reach out to professional resources if they experience signs of excessive stress or mental health issues

  • According to a study by the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, gamekeepers in Scotland are at increased risk of mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and suicide
  • A survey conducted by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association in 2017 found that 90% of gamekeepers reported experiencing some form of mental health challenge. The same survey also found that 66% of gamekeepers felt that their job had a negative impact on their mental health.
  • The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust found that 92% of gamekeepers reported experiencing stress, and 39% had experienced depression
In a Nutshell...

What are the factors affecting Gamekeepers Mental Health?


Isolation and loneliness

Gamekeepers often work alone or in small teams in remote locations, which can lead to feelings of social isolation and loneliness. This can be particularly challenging during long hours of work or during periods of bad weather.

Physical demands

The job can be physically demanding, with gamekeepers required to manage large areas of land, maintain equipment, and carry out strenuous tasks. This can lead to physical exhaustion, injuries, and chronic pain, which may contribute to mental health issues.

Exposure to trauma

Gamekeepers may witness or experience traumatic events, such as animal deaths, accidents, or environmental disasters. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Public scrutiny and criticism

Gamekeepers can face public scrutiny and criticism, particularly from animal rights activists and anti-hunting groups. This may cause feelings of stress, frustration, and even anger, particularly if they feel misunderstood or misrepresented.

Financial insecurity

Gamekeeping can be a seasonal or irregular job, which can lead to financial insecurity and stress. This can impact mental health and exacerbate existing mental health conditions.

Stigma & Access to support

There can be a stigma associated with discussing mental health issues or seeking help in some rural communities, making it harder access timely and appropriate care, and acknowledge and address mental health needs

Sound Familiar? There's something you can do for yourself, your colleagues and your friends...

Mental Health Awareness: Why should Gamekeepers undertake Mental Health Training?

A mental health awareness course can help Gamekeepers better understand the warning signs of mental health issues, reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, and learn coping mechanisms to manage stress and maintain good mental health.

Here are just six reasons Gamekeepers should undertake Mental Health Awareness Training:


Mental health challenges are common in Gamekeeping

Gamekeepers are at higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and suicide due to factors such as long work hours, isolation, public scrutiny and the emotional demands of their work.

Identify mental health issues

Mental health awareness courses can help gamekeepers recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and stress. This can help them identify when they or their colleagues may be struggling with mental health issues.

Reduce stigma

Mental health awareness courses can help reduce the stigma that can be associated with mental health issues. By promoting a culture of openness and understanding, gamekeepers may be more likely to seek help for mental health problems.

Increase resilience

Mental health awareness courses can teach gamekeepers coping skills and resilience-building techniques that can help them manage stress and other mental health challenges.

Improve overall health and wellbeing

Mental health is a key component of overall health and wellbeing. By taking a mental health awareness course, gamekeepers can improve their understanding of mental health and develop the skills they need to take care of their mental health and support the mental health of those around them.

Improve communication

Mental health awareness courses can help gamekeepers develop their communication skills, enabling them to talk to colleagues, friends, and family members about mental health issues in a supportive and non-judgmental way.

Good news! There's an easily accessible solution to enhance your mental health skills...

Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) – Tailored for Gamekeepers

Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) is a training program developed in Scotland to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge to provide initial support to someone experiencing mental health problems or who is in a mental health crisis. The goal of SMHFA is to promote early intervention, reduce stigma, and increase awareness of mental health issues in the community.

The training covers various mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, and substance misuse, and teaches participants how to recognize the signs and symptoms of these conditions. It also provides guidance on how to approach and engage with someone who may be experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.

Green Ribbons has developed a tailored SMHFA course for Gamekeepers, addressing some of the unique issues in the sector, based on personal experience as an active member of a local shoot in the North of Scotland.

What does Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid Training Cover?


Understanding mental health and mental health problems

This component focuses on building a foundational understanding of mental health, its impact on individuals and society, and the difference between mental health and mental illness.

Stigma and discrimination

Participants learn about the stigma surrounding mental health issues and the negative impact of discrimination on individuals experiencing mental health problems.

The recovery process

The course covers the concept of recovery and its importance in the journey of individuals experiencing mental health issues.


SMHFA provides information on the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of depression, as well as ways to support someone who may be experiencing it.

Anxiety disorders

Participants learn about various anxiety disorders, their signs and symptoms, and strategies to help someone who may be struggling with anxiety.


The course covers the signs and symptoms of psychosis, its risk factors, and the appropriate ways to support someone experiencing a psychotic episode.

The ALGEE action plan

The course teaches the ALGEE action plan, which is a practical approach to providing initial support and guiding someone experiencing mental health issues towards professional help.

Self-harm and suicide

Participants learn about the signs, risk factors, and appropriate ways to approach and support someone who may be self-harming or experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Substance misuse

SMHFA discusses the connection between mental health and substance misuse, and how to recognize and support someone struggling with addiction.

How does Scotland's Mental Health First Aid training work?


The course takes 12 Hours, typically spanning 2 full days or 4 half-day sessions, providing a comprehensive learning experience.

Certified Instructors

Courses are led by experienced, certified instructors who are continuously quality assessed by Health Scotland.

Interactive Learning

The course features a mix of presentations, group discussions, case studies, videos, and role-playing exercises to ensure a practical, hands-on learning experience.

Small Group Sizes

Classes, of 8-16, are kept small to facilitate personalised attention, encourage active participation, and foster a supportive learning environment.

ALGEE Framework

The course teaches the ALGEE action plan, which stands for Assess, Listen, Give reassurance and information, Encourage appropriate professional help, and Encourage self-help strategies.


Instructors maintain a safe and confidential space for participants to share their experiences and ask questions without judgment.

Course Materials

Participants receive a comprehensive course manual and additional resources to support their learning and ongoing development.


Upon successful completion of the course, participants receive a certificate that validates their skills and knowledge as Mental Health First Aiders.

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    Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid for Gamekeepers
    How does the tailored SMHFA course for gamekeepers address the unique issues in their profession?
    What is a physical challenge gamekeepers may face that can contribute to mental health issues?
    Which issue might gamekeepers experience due to public scrutiny and criticism?
    What is a barrier to accessing mental health support in rural communities?
    Why should gamekeepers undertake mental health awareness training?
    How can mental health awareness courses help gamekeepers with communication?
    What does the ALGEE action plan in Scotland's Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) training provide?
    Which of the following is NOT a reason to undertake mental health awareness training?
    Which audience is this training designed for?
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