Endaf Griffiths, 25, lives on a small sheep farm in Cwmsychbant and is a member of Pontsiân Young Farmers Club. He is Ceredigion’s Young Farmer of the Year and has recently helped to organise an event to raise money for Tir Dewi and the DPJ Foundation.
Country life: Life in the countryside can be very hard and lonely at times. Not even the hardiest and most macho of farmers can deny this.
Farming is an industry that is constantly dealt a blow after blow, and one can only imagine what effect each blow, along with the daily strains of farm life, has on its people and their mental wellbeing.
In West Wales, where I live, there is a constant feeling that things are coming to an end in our rural communities. It began years ago with villages losing their post offices, pubs and primary schools, and by now local, once thriving market towns are seeing their banks and shops being closed.
For Welsh speakers – of which I am one – seeing the erosion of our own language, culture and identity also adds to this dismal picture of country life.
Stigma: In an age where it is easy to connect with people from all around the globe through social media, one would think that isolation is no longer a major problem. But it still is.
Added to this is that old, stubborn view that talking about your personal feelings shows weakness.
The stigma surrounding mental health is real, especially within our rural communities. It is taking lives - and we must tackle it now.
Taking action: On January 31, the Young Farmers of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire will join forces to host an event that aims to have a real discussion about mental health.
The free and bilingual (Welsh and English) evening at the Emlyn Hotel, Newcastle Emlyn will include a panel of guest speakers, a Q&A session and an auction, with all proceeds being split between two very important mental health charities in West Wales – Tir Dewi and The DPJ Foundation.
One of the guest speakers will be the Welsh TV presenter and farmer, Alun Elidyr, who over the last few years has been inspiringly open about his personal experiences with mental health.
The two other speakers will be Emma Picton-Jones (DPJ Foundation) and the Reverend Canon Eileen Davies (Tir Dewi). In the Chair will be another Welsh TV presenter and farmer, Meinir Howells.
As one of the organisers, I know full well that the mental health stigma is not going to disappear overnight - but my hope is that this event will go some way in showing those who are suffering that it is OK to talk.