Many of you familiar with our campaign will also be familiar with the inspirational Emma Picton-Jones who very generously shared her touching story of dealing with mental health in farming last year. After a whirlwind year that saw her accept a Pride of Britain Award for the work she has been doing (above pictured with The Saturdays), we managed to catch up with her to find out how the DPJ Foundation has grown since last year’s campaign and what Emma did next…
“2018 was, what can only be described as, an unexpected year for us as a Foundation. Just before the ‘Mind Your Head’ campaign went live last year, we launched our fully funded counselling service in our small corner of Wales (Pembrokeshire) as a pilot.
We wanted to provide counselling to the agricultural sector in a way which was completely accessible and suited those who needed it as talking is the most effective way of dealing with poor mental health. We set up a 24hour call line, we had counsellors who were aware of the issues faced by the sector – some of whom come directly from a farming background and we were ready to go! We had no idea how our pilot year would go, whether anyone would access the support available at all. Through a social media and poster campaign in the county we started spreading the word.
“I’m pleased to say that the service proved a real success. Finishing the year we had a good number of farmers come through the service to access counselling. Some of which accessed support through outreach counselling, this is when our counsellors go out on to farms and provide therapy in the comfort of their own home or field as the case may be!
“We have worked closely with the Rural Crime Team in Dyfed Powys Police and the R.A.B.I. forging great relationships with those who are out in the community. Following this, we have now expanded the service in to Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Powys with a view of lots of fundraising this year to get to the rest of Wales!
“In the middle of this we were really fortunate to have had a whirlwind winter which meant that the name of the Foundation was being picked up both locally and nationally. We won a local innovation award at Health Care Awards Pembrokeshire, we were a finalist in The Sun Newspapers ‘Who Cares Wins’ Healthcare Awards and managed to get ourselves recognised at the Pride of Britain Awards. We also made it to 10 Downing Street as part of the National Mental Health Day reception. To be standing amongst national charities and ministers from all over the world and being able to represent the farming community was one of the biggest achievements for me personally this year. Having grown up on a dairy farm, I always knew I wanted to keep some involvement in farming. I had always dreamt of taking over the farm with all sorts of weird and wonderful animals (much to dad’s dismay!) but sadly, teaching led me astray.
“So to be able to represent the sector that I am so proud to be a part of, and give farmers a voice in such a prominent place was just fantastic.
I was able to stand up and talk about the issues that farmers are facing to the Prime Minister and the Health Minister, and many more; many of them hadn’t considered that the issue was as prevalent as it actually is.
“We begin 2019 in our new counties. We have many plans for the year ahead including continuing to deliver Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to those in the sector. MHFA is a vital tool in securing the safety and wellbeing of those in the sector and gives a huge amount of ownership and knowledge to those in the sector to help their friends, families and neighbours.
“We are also planning to get physical and mental health support out in the community by way of a mobile health hub which can travel around markets, sales and agricultural shows providing everyone in our sector with the healthcare they are sometimes reluctant to access.
“2019 is looking busy but it is amazing to see the changes in a year on the attitudes towards mental health in the sector and the fantastic work that is going on to support that. Remember to Share the Load – it’s okay not to be okay.”
For more information of the DPJ Foundation please visit www.thedpjfoundation.com