Welsh charity wants an end to farmer mental health stigma

Credit: Family photo

When Emma Picton-Jones' husband Daniel took his own life in 2016, she decided much more needed to be done to tackle poor mental health in agriculture.

He'd been struggling with anxiety and depression for some time.

The agricultural industry has the highest rates of suicide amongst its workers; more than any other sector, and figures suggest one farmer takes their life in the UK every week.

Following her husband's death Emma set up the DPJ Foundation from her home in Pembrokeshire.

The charity aims to breakdown the stigma that surrounds mental health and provides support and counselling services for people in rural communities.

Emma says farmers struggle, in part, because of the isolating nature of their work.

Just three months after Daniel died Emma ran the charity's first mental health awareness training day.

Today the Foundation is growing in reach.

In January it launched "Share the Load" - a 24-hour text and phone service. It is run by Samaritans-trained volunteers who will make sure those who want help will be linked up with a counsellor within 24 hours.

Since it launched it has helped the equivalent of one client per week.

The charity has had a lottery grant for Share the Load but the rest of the money comes from fundraisers.

One of those is sheep farmer Matt Launder, 26, from Llanerfyl in Montgomeryshire.

Matt says 'for a while' he 'fell out of love with farming'.

A tough time with his business in 2018 led him to start thinking about his own mental wellbeing.

Earlier this year Matt decided to take on a mammoth challenge, all to raise funds for the DPJ Foundation.

In June he will climb nine of the UK's highest mountains; Ben Nevis, Ben Macdui and Ben Braeriach in Scotland, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and The Old Man of Coniston in England, and Snowdon and Cader Idris in Wales in just 72 hours.

Matt is training to climb nine of the UK's highest mountains.

Accompanied by his brother Dan, and brother-in-law George, he's aiming to walk around 76 miles of ascents and descents in just three days.

The group will be supported by Matt's other brother-in-law Gareth, who will be driving them some 1,300 miles between peaks over the course of the challenge.

Matt's challenge begins on Thursday 13 June when he begins climbing Ben Nevis at 6pm, walking through the night.

He hopes to finish his challenge by climbing Pen y Fan at around 4pm on Sunday 16 June where he hopes supporters will join him for the final leg of his mammoth journey.