Poor mental health and suicide in rural and farming communities is sadly an increasing problem and one that the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has made a commitment to tackle.

Approaching the fourth year of awareness raising and doing everything it takes to help break the stigma, the union is hosting a virtual All Wales Mental Health Conference on Friday, October 9, 2020, via Zoom, ahead of World Mental Health Day.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said:

"The FUW understands that mental health problems can affect a person’s ability to process information and solve problems, deplete their energy and motivation, and increase impulsive behaviour.

"Whilst the symptoms are being treated, the root causes of these issues are not so frequently addressed.

This conference will therefore go beyond the usual points of discussions and explore the subject further. It is an open event and anyone with an interest in mental health is welcome to join us virtually on the day.

New Zealand farmer and mental health champion Doug Avery is also supporting the event with a video message sharing his experience of mental health.

The morning session will explore the wider context of poor mental health in rural communities and what steps need to be taken by government, decision makers and policy shapers to address the situation, especially as Covid-19 has put further pressure not just on people’s mental health but also their finances.

Speakers for the morning session, which starts at 10:30am and is chaired by Farmers Guardian Chief Reporter Abi Kay, include:

  • Sara Lloyd, Team Leader, South Ceredigion Community Mental Health Team;
  • Cath Fallon, Head of Enterprise and Community Animation Enterprise Directorate, Monmouthshire County Council;
  • Lee Philips, Wales Manager, Money and Pensions Service;
  • John Forbes-Jones, Corporate Manager Mental Wellbeing Services, Ceredigion County Council.

The afternoon session, which starts at 2:00pm, will take a practical approach and hear from various dedicated mental health charities offering hands-on advice for those who are supporting a loved one going through mental issues as well as those who are currently experiencing poor mental health.

Speakers for the afternoon session, which is chaired by well-known TV Presenter Alun Elidyr, include:

  • Gareth Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Tir Dewi;
  • David Williams, Wales Regional Director, the Farming Community Network;
  • Kate Miles, Charity Manager, The DPJ Foundation;
  • Linda Jones, Regional Manager, Wales RABI.

The conference is an open event and those wishing to join can register online.