By Debbie James

Farmers were urged to take their mental wellbeing as seriously as their physical fitness by rural support network Tir Dewi when it teamed up with livestock marts in west Wales to deliver that message on World Mental Health Day.

Tir Dewi, which provides support in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, has already worked with 80 farmers and farming families.

“We need to get rid of the myth that there is a stigma around mental health. We can all suffer, many of us do, and it is OK to talk about it,’’ says Tir Dewi executive director, Gareth Davies.

“We will never be judgmental and the support is entirely confidential.’’

Mr Davies joined volunteers at Whitland and Carmarthen livestock marts to deliver that message to farmers.

“Farmers are unique in that they experience depression and anxiety but they experience it on their own because often they live and work in isolation. But we are saying you don’t have to be alone. You are not on your own, we are there,’’ he said.

Bovine TB features as one of the main causes of depression and anxiety among the farmers Tir Dewi has helped, as do problems with paperwork and succession issues.

But isolation is the biggest issue, Mr Davies explained. “The pressure of growth and the mechanisation of farming processes means farmers are increasingly isolated and in debt.’’

Roy and Pat Thomas, of Mount Gardens, St Davids, signed up as volunteers because they were aware that many farmers were struggling to cope.

“Farmers are very proud people and ask for nothing but give a lot to the country,’’ said Roy, a former farm worker.

Tir Dewi is keen to hear from others potential volunteers – people who understand the farming profession, are non-judgmental and have listening skills and empathy.

Tir Dewi has a freephone number 0800 121 47 22 and a website