What is the Welsh Government doing to help agricultural communities with mental health issues?
Improving mental health and well-being continues to be a priority for the Welsh Government and I recognise that farmers and those living in rural communities are facing a significant period of change which could impact on their mental health.
We support a number of important activities to protect and improve mental health in rural communities, such as the Farm Support Group which brings together farming charities. The Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, has joined meetings of the Farm Support Group to hear first-hand some of the issues farmers are facing.
The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs has invested £45,000 to develop Farmwell Wales, an information hub on personal and business resilience for farmers and their families. The hub takes the form of a website and a hard copy directory, which has been sent to some 16,500 farm businesses across Wales.
The bilingual hub has supported over 9000 users since it was launched in March 2020. In addition, we are providing a Bereavement Support Grant of £52,135 for the three year period 2021-24 to the DPJ Foundation to improve the provision of bereavement support to the agricultural community.
More broadly, we continue to increase our investment in mental health services and in 2022/23 we will provide an additional £50 million to support mental health and well-being. Health boards are responsible for ensuring services meet the needs of their local communities and NHS mental health services are available to anyone that meets the threshold to benefit from this level of support.
However, I recognise that most people will not need specialist mental health services and we have significantly increased our investment in a range of non-clinical support, particularly since the onset of the pandemic. This support is available to all and can be accessed both over the phone and online without a referral. This includes our 24/7 CALL Mental Health Advice Line, Silvercloud online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and a range of third sector provided support.