#ShareTheLoad: the most important farming advice

#ShareTheLoad: the most important farming advice

#ShareTheLoad: the most important farming advice

We’ve partnered with the DPJ Foundation to help support people in agriculture to get the help they need. DPJ offers mental health training, fully funded counselling, and a 24/7 helpline. 

This blog is from their founder, Emma Picton-Jones, on the importance of looking after your mental health and where to find help.

Realising the worst

In July 2016 the life that I knew was turned completely upside down. I woke on the morning of July 5th to find my husband missing. Hindsight is a marvellous tool and looking back it’s clear he had mental health issues. I had spent years brushing off mood swings and worry as ‘married life’ and the stresses of being a contractor. However on that morning it became clear that this was far more than worry and stress. His mental health and pushed him over the edge to the point where he took the decision to end his life.

His worry and stress, and what I now know was depression, didn’t really seem bad enough at the time to make me think it was a mental health problem. Mainly because I knew absolutely nothing about mental health – people weren’t talking about it openly and anyone who did in my small community in Pembrokeshire was labelled ‘nuts’ or ‘crazy’. I thought naively that it was something that would never impact me or my family. I remember even at times when things were really bad, when Dan wasn’t sleeping, when he would write list upon list of all the things he wanted to do but felt he couldn’t do, even then I never thought suicide would be something that was an option because we had children, and why would someone with children and seemingly with everything to live for want to die? Dan’s issues weren’t different to anyone else’s: he worried about money – being self employed comes with all sorts of issues – and he worried about the children. He got down, and not just a little bit down, but really down, about all sorts of things. I remember not being able to understand why. Why couldn’t he just pick himself up and get on with it?

Emma and her children
Emma and her children

It's more common than you think

The fact of the matter is that even people with everything – with children, wives, husbands – or even those without can still feel that low, that the only option to end the suffering is to die. It quickly became clear that this is a huge issue in the sector that I had grown up in and loved, as did Dan. With one farmer in the UK taking his or her own life every week it was obvious that I wasn’t the only one who all of a sudden was a widow to suicide. Just no one else was talking about it.

I don’t think anyone should ever have to go through what my children and I were going through, and that no one should have to feel like they have no option but to die. I decided to do something about it, to put support out in the community for people, just like Dan. A week later, the DPJ Foundation was born with the intention of making sure those in the sector had help if they felt like there was nowhere else to turn.

Helping yourself and others

Talking really is the most effective way of dealing with poor mental health. 

The DPJ Foundation now provides fully funded counselling to anyone in farming across Wales, with a 24 hour call line and text service . We also provide Mental Health Awareness training, so if you’re worried about someone else you can know what to say or do, and how to get help. 

We’ve helped over 200 farmers across Wales who were just like Dan. He often said no one ever felt like he did and he felt different to everyone else, when actually a huge amount of people feel just like him. If only he talked about it, he would have known.

If you find yourself feeling down or low or overly anxious, it’s vital that you voice it.

Talking is hugely important: talk to your family, friends, us or the Samaritans – as long as you’re talking, that’s all that matters.

If things are getting too much then take some time out.

Do something that makes yourself feel better whether that’s a walk, run or just sitting down with the newspaper.

Get help.

There’s absolutely no shame in asking for help. The only shame is missing out on life when you don’t. Use the Farmwell resources online to find support service in your area.

Don’t forget to #sharetheload.

Remember, we all need support at times

Join our webinar

We’ll be holding a webinar on June 25th 2020 on mental health and farming – running through the importance of finding help and more on how to look after yourself and others.

Click here to register to attend or receive the recording.

Stay safe and happy.

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