Last summer, Daniel Picton-Jones took his own life. He was an agricultural contractor with a wife and young family. While still coming to terms with his death, his widow Emma decided she had to find something positive in the tragedy. So she started the DPJ Foundation, specifically aimed at supporting people’s mental health in rural communities.
The risk of suicide for men working in the agricultural industry is almost twice as high as average, according to the Office for National Statistics, with stress, anxiety and isolation all contributing factors.
Emma told ITV News she knew her husband had suffered from mental health problems for a number of years and he had sought help in the past, but found counselling wasn’t for him.
Emma says she knew she would never have got her father or grandfather, both of whom were farmers, to a support group. Instead, she used money donated at Daniel’s funeral to fund mental health awareness training for 38 people who worked in the agricultural community, including vets, union representatives and others who have contact with farmers on a daily basis. That training included spotting the signs of anxiety, stress, depression and other mental health illness so they can point people in the right direction to get support.
In the first few months of the foundation, around £12,000 had been donated, helping them to do more work in the community.
The next step of that is providing talking therapy sessions, through which people can be referred to counselling funded by the foundation.
To date, the charity has raised around £25,000. Emma says that while it’s difficult to gauge how many people it has helped, she’s had people contact her on social media opening up about their mental health and how they have been inspired to seek help.
Emma also hopes the work the foundation does will help her children understand mental health issues more and learn to talk about them.