A top Welsh Government official has admitted that some ‘stresses and strains’ of farmers can be caused by Government actions.
Mark Alexander, deputy director of agriculture at the sustainable development division at Welsh Government, said policies, interventions and even language in official communications could all contribute to farmers’ mental health problems.
Farm groups have repeatedly warned that Welsh Government policies around bovine TB and new water regulations have been having a detrimental impact on the mental health of farmers.
Speaking during a Farmers’ Union of Wales digital conference on the subject of mental health last week (October 9), Mr Alexander said: “Clearly, some of the stresses and strains actually come because of the actions of Government.
“As Government, we very much need to be mindful of that as we go through new policy development, but also how we implement current policy.
“In general, there is not any one answer. We are all individuals and Government needs to recognise that as much as it can within the constraints it has got.”
During the conference, Sam Taylor, a farmer and representative of mental health charity the DPJ Foundation, explained he had struggled to communicate with Government agencies before and after a suicide attempt.
He said: “Coming out of hospital, there is a lack of understanding from people.
“I contacted the Government to do something with the Single Farm Payment, and their understanding was very minimal until we got deep into conversation.
“It took quite a few letters back and forth to buy a bit of time to resolve the problem.
“There was not an understanding straight away, so there is more that can be done there.”
Mr Taylor did, however, acknowledge the difficulty Government has in being able to treat everyone individually, and urged any farmers who are struggling to seek help as early as possible to avoid bigger problems further down the line.