‘Share the Load’: NFU Cymru aims to tackle farmers’ mental health

The staff of the National Farmers’ Union for Wales (NFU Cymru) were recently given new insights into the issue of mental health for farmers, after hosting a talk from the founder of a suicide-prevention charity.

Emma Picton-Jones, who founded the DPJ Foundation in 2016, told the staff at NFU Cymru headquarters that: “One in four people will suffer a mental health issue in their lifetime, with agriculture carrying one of the highest rates of suicide.”

The staff received a full day’s mental health training, as Emma recounted the tragic circumstances that led her to set up the charity, and the achievements it has made since its inception.

The DPJ Foundation is aimed at supporting people in rural areas who are suffering from mental health difficulties, especially men who work in the agricultural sector.

“Mental health is prevalent in the agricultural sector, with it carrying one of the highest rates of suicide. I was delighted to be able to support NFU Cymru with mental health awareness training. It’s great to see the NFU being proactive and taking steps to support others in the community,” said Emma after the event.

Meanwhile, Kevin Owen, NFU Cymru’s head of operations, said: “Farming cannot be an isolated profession; it’s hugely traditional and often carries a resistance towards seeking help. Farmers are at the mercy of the elements and many factors beyond their control.

“All these issues combined can contribute to depression and anxiety and, if not dealt with, can slowly spiral out of control,” he added.

With this in mind, we organised mental health awareness training as we believe, now more than ever, we must all be talking about mental health and the many ways that people can seek help. This was the first in a series of training sessions to be rolled out across our network in Wales.

NFU Cymru is urging everybody in the farming community to look out for their family, friends and neighbours, and to talk to them if you notice a change in personality or appearance.

With this in mind, the organisation has created the #MindYourHead campaign, which ties in with the DPJ Foundation’s #ShareTheLoad initiative.