Mental health remains a priority for FUW

The FUW remains extremely frustrated and alarmed about an existing open access TB information portal and has written several times to the Cabinet Secretary for energy, Planning and Rural affairs about this matter.

“The vulnerability of cattle farmers to harassment from anti-cull groups is now well documented and cannot be disputed. The ever- increasing use of social media has provided a portal for quick, cheap and widespread information dissemination.

“We will continue to press for access to bovine TB information to be restricted in order to ensure that farming families are safeguarded from vigilantism and intimidating behaviour from animal rights extremists,” added Dr Wright.

MenTal health, or poor mental health, is an issue that affects the farming community greatly and it is well known that loneliness and social isolation can lead to mental health problems.

Those working in the agricultural sector, like the FUW, will regularly come into contact with lonely people who are at risk of poor mental health and with this in mind, the union made a commitment at the Royal Welsh agricultural Show in 2017 to further raise awareness of mental health problems in rural communities.

Taking that commitment a step further as an employer, union staff have recently participated in ‘Mental health First aid Wales’ training, delivered by emma Picton-Jones of the DPJ Foundation.

The two-day training course looked at various elements of mental health, symptoms and signs of someone with poor mental health and explored how to help someone with poor mental health such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.

“Mental health is an issue for every workplace and workforce and I’m pleased to say that our staff now have the appropriate training, which will help them help others with poor mental health.

“The FUW takes its commitment to fostering good mental health serious, especially as our awareness of the risks for farmers become more visible,” said FUW managing director alan Davies.

The FUW understands that failing to deal with poor mental wellbeing could have serious consequences and could lead to the farm running inefficiently, a serious injury, relationship breakdowns, poor physical health and even worse, it could lead to suicide.

“There is a wealth of evidence that demonstrates that loneliness and social isolation are significant issues affecting our older population, but it is important to acknowledge that farmers and those working

in rural communities work long and unsociable hours, in inhospitable conditions and in failing markets. as a result many farmers are susceptible to feeling lonely and isolated, regardless of age or gender and they represent a population at immense risk of poor mental health.

“I’m proud of our staff for taking this subject so serious. It isn’t something that is part of their job role but it’s something they wanted to do and I feel encouraged that the stigma around mental health is slowly changing and that the union is part of inspiring that change,” said FUW president Glyn Roberts.

Speaking after the training emma Picton- Jones, founder of the DPJ Foundation, said: “There has been a real pick up in this training and lots of organisations have been in touch requesting this training urgently because they see that there is a real concern around Brexit but also that there are many other things happening that have people worried.

“It is really encouraging that organisations like the FUW want to be able to deal with those situations effectively and actively want to do something to help other people. It’s fantastic.”

She added that while there is still a long way to go, attitudes towards mental health are changing.

“I’ve seen a massive shift over the last couple of years, especially since setting up the foundation. People are more open about it and especially now with this training on hand people can go back to their offices and members, proudly saying that they have had the training.

“People are talking about what they’ve learnt and the different situations we discussed and all of this encourages conversation. and the more we talk about it the more open we are and the less stigma there is,” added emma Picton-Jones.

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