I want to start this week’s column by once again thanking everyone who helped make our annual breakfast week events another roaring success last week, writes FUW Brecon and Radnor Executive Officer Kath Shaw.

It was great to see so many of you join us round the table for breakfast and talk about our industry. It also provided an opportunity to check in on friends and neighbours to see how they are doing.

Conversations around mental health are challenging, and in the farming community in particular, it can be difficult to open up about what you may be experiencing. Many of the common signs of mental ill-health can be missed when farmers are spending significant periods of time working long hours alone. Isolation is the norm for many farmers who also have to deal with the aftermath of storms, market uncertainty and questions over future income streams.

If you notice a change in behaviour in those around you, please check in with them. They will not always want to talk to you but in some cases just knowing that someone has noticed is enough to persuade them to get help. As part of our Mental Health First Aid training we have been offered some simple advice - when someone does start talking to you you just need to listen. There is no need to try and fix the person’s problems, you don’t have to try to work through their situation or offer advice. Just listen - it’s a key skill but one that could make a significant difference.

I would also say that you don’t need to wait until you have suicidal thoughts before seeking help. It’s worth getting support and talking to someone if you feel you can’t cope with everyday challenges. Maybe you’re feeling tired more often, or feeling emotional for no obvious reasons or simply not wanting to do the things that you usually enjoy.

Struggling to cope with everyday life doesn’t look or feel the same in everyone and we certainly wouldn’t want to generalise about how it’ll make you feel or act. Some signs to look out for include, but are not limited to, lack of energy or feeling tired; feeling exhausted all of the time, experiencing ‘brain fog’ and finding it hard to think clearly; having trouble concentrating; being restless and agitated; feeling tearful; not wanting to talk to people or be with them and finding it difficult to cope with everyday things and task.

Should you recognise these signs in someone or you are experiencing some or all of these, please don’t feel like you are alone. Help is out there and sometimes the thing that makes us strong is reaching out for help.

Mental health has been an issue in the sector for a long time and we are facing unprecedented times and plenty of uncertainty which is never helpful when it comes to mental health issues. Thankfully in Wales there is a lot of support available and we should all seek help when we need to be supported.