In darkness of winter - and in the rain and the cold - following the overspending of Christmas, and with many bills to be paid, January can be a very challenging time, writes Cefin Campbell MS.

This hardship and mental strain is often particularly acutely felt within our rural and agricultural communities – where the mental health crisis continues to hide all-too clearly in plain sight.

Recent years have seen significant efforts to address this crisis, and tackle the stigma that for too long has been associated with poor mental health.

However, much more needs to be done to tackle this crisis within our agricultural communities.


This was reflected in a recent survey by the Farm Safety Foundation, which found that 94% of farmers believed that serious mental health problems are the main challenge facing the sector.

Of course, the reasons behind these mental health issues within our agricultural communities can be complicated, and many of them are longstanding.

These include the continued strains stemming from bTB – and the Welsh Government’s continued failure to address either the spread of the disease or the toll that managing it can take on farmers’ mental health – the burden of paperwork, wider financial pressures, and the reality that a farmer’s life can often be a lonely existence – often invloving long hours working alone, without seeing a soul.

There’s no doubt that rural mental health charities – including DPJ Foundation, RABI and Tir Dewi undertake invaluable work in supporting farmers and their families who experience such mental health issues.

During the Winter Fair in Llanelwedd last month, I met with Tir Dewi and learned first-hand of the growing demand they are facing from farmers – with the charity’s casework at an all-time high in 2023.

Whilst such charities do work miracles under difficult circumstances, it remains the case that the NHS in our rural areas is underfunded and underdeveloped in terms of seeking to deal with the magnitude of this mental health crisis.

I challenged the Health Minister on this very point earlier this month in the Senedd – citing the long waiting lists, and scarcity and inconsistency of specialist support in rural NHS provision.

When it comes to mental health, it’s so important that individuals reach out and share the load.

Welsh Government needs to invest urgently to ensure those in need of support – particularly in rural areas – are in receipt of it.