With the impact of the coronavirus outbreak causing uncertainty and stress, farm groups and agricultural charities have reassured farmers help is at hand for those who need it.
It comes after the effects of the coronavirus outbreak have placed increasing pressure on farmers and growers across the UK, which has reignited a sector wide drive behind ensuring those struggling with mental health are accessing the necessary support available.
The move has seen the Farming Community Network (FCN) collaborate with government and rural charities such as the DPJ Foundation, to create an online resource to provide mental and business support to Welsh farmers.
Running alongside its existing Farmwell portal for England, Jude McCann, chief executive officer, said: “These types of resources are particularly important during times of heightened anxiety and instability, like what we are going through now with Covid-19, and it is therefore important to remind farmers that they can access support through these difficult times.”
Teesdale sheep farmer and north regional director for the FCN Richard Betton echoed this and urged ‘help is out there’, adding: “As a farmer myself I know the pressures we are under – even before coronavirus hit the UK, farmers were dealing with severe flooding, the implications of Brexit…and media misinformation around livestock farming.
“But I also know help is out there and I have seen so many people reach out to the FCN network and receive the help they need.”
Emma Picton-Jones, founder of the DPJ Foundation, claimed the initiative was a sobering reminder of the wider assistance present within the farming community.
In an industry which witnessed 83 suicides in 2018 alone, Ms Jones reinforced it was ‘now more important than ever’ to reach out to those struggling during this difficult period.
She said: “We are part of a sector that is already hugely isolated, so it is vital that we remind farmers of the services that continue to run, in spite of the disruption caused by the outbreak.
“Our charity will continue to provide fully funded counselling via Skype and its call line will remain in operation.”
Pointing to the accessibility of the various farming charities, Mr Betton added: “All the rural charities are geared to deal with the very specific issues and problems that farmers face.
“Time [alongside the more practical assistance of, for example, RABI] and other charities is what we can offer each other during this time – remember, you are not alone, it is alright not to cope, and there is no shame in asking for help.”