Mental health problems are common in agricultural communities, with many people not understanding what they’re going through. In our community attitudes towards mental health are really old fashioned. We’re supposed to keep a “stiff upper lip” and not talk about how we’re feeling. In rural areas like ours, people don’t know about the (few) services that can help them.
Sadly, last year a beloved member of our community took his own life. Everyone was shocked when we heard the news as many of us had no idea he had mental health problems. As a community we wanted to do something; we couldn’t carry on as before. So we decided we’d raise money for a charity, as a way of supporting his family, and people living with mental health problems.
We’re all part of the Young Farmers Club in Sarn, Mid-Wales. Our late friend’s daughter is a member too so we asked her who she would like us to fundraise for in memory of her dad. She chose Mind and we were all really happy with her choice.
The generosity of everyone that came was astounding and we all had a fantastic time
We couldn’t wait to get started. As it was coming up to Christmas, we subjected houses and farms in the village to our somewhat questionable singing. In the New Year we held a bingo night in our local village hall. We asked for donations from local companies to give as prizes and every member brought cakes and puddings to give away. The generosity of everyone that came was astounding and we all had a fantastic time.
For our final fundraising event we held a charity lunch in a marquee. We sold tickets for a three course meal with entertainment, which included a raffle, promise auction and a few games. Businesses were kind enough to donate again to the cause. Our prizes varied from tours around the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, to afternoon tea and even a ride on a yacht.
In total we raised a fantastic £1745, which, for a small club of around 25 members, is amazing. At the end of my year as chairperson I felt enormously proud of our club and community for helping us to raise so much money for a wonderful charity that is very close to our hearts. The support that we received in our fundraising has shown that the community will come together to help each other and raise money for a good cause. One of the most memorable moments was the thanks I received from our late friend’s wife, saying how grateful she was for all we had done.
Maybe if our friend knew about a charity that could have helped, he might have reached out
I have also been changed by this whole experience – I have a totally different attitude towards life. Although I haven’t had any mental health problems myself, I have learnt to appreciate everything I have and to not compare myself too much to others. I also make a conscious effort to be nice, it may sound simple but you never know what people are going through. If I feel that something I’ve said or done may have affected someone, I make sure that I apologise. I think that this attitude is also true of many of my friends, even though it sounds cliché, life is short and we need to embrace it.
For us it was so important to support Mind because maybe if our friend knew about a charity that could have helped, he might have reached out. I hope that with the help of Mind, there will be greater acknowledgement of mental health in rural communities, and we won’t have to say goodbye to someone else we love.
For information and advice about suicidal feelings visit this page. If you need someone to talk to, Samaritans are there 24/7 on 116 123 or Jo@samaritans.org.
If you live in a rural community and are looking for support, check out our online community Elefriends, or our pages on finding peer support.
Been inspired by Anna's story? Find out more about fundraising for Mind on this page of our website and more about giving in memory here.