Farming is a hard job, and the work farmers put in day in and day out can go unrecognized, as Canadians are removed from where their food comes from. Farmers work long hours to provide Canadians with a stable supply of high-quality food, 365 days a year. A farmer’s workspace looks far different than the majority of Canadians. Unlike traditional offices, farmers can be affected by weather, lack of staff, finances or an inability to take a sick day” when needed. In addition, isolation and the lack of separation of work and home life are key factors in causing stress in farmers. With all this mind, and more, it is no wonder that mental health can be a leading issue in agriculture.
When people think of mental health, they often think of feeling happy or sad, depression or anxiety. But, it’s more than that. The fact is, 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from some form of mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures. It’s important to take care of yourself and your mental health. Just like a broken arm needs treatment, your mental health is no different. Talk to someone, seek help and don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Below you will find a list of resources you can use to get help. Whether you already have started working on your mental heath or don’t know where to start, we encourage you to look below and start working towards taking care of yourself.
Where to start?
If you have no idea where to start, let’s look at the signs you may experience when dealing with mental illness. According to the Government of Canada, these are some of the things you might notice:
Please note that this is a baseline for signs, but everyoneis different. Different people can experience different signs and symptoms. The Canadian Mental Health Association has created a quick test to help you determine how mentally fit you are. Information provided is not a substitute for professional advice. If you feel that you may need advice, please consult a qualified health care professional. Take Test Here.
Just like a head cold and or a virus, mental illness comes in all shapes and forms. Anxiety and depression are some of the more common terms you might hear about, but there are many more illnesses out there. For a complete compendium of all possible mental illnesses, we encourage you to visit Psychology Today or the Canadian Psychology Association’s websites. They have comprehensive lists, factsheets and basic information on all forms of mental illness. This might provide some guidance for those who have an idea of what they are struggling with, or just a good educational piece on learning the various forms of mental illness. If you prefer a more interactive approach, here is a list of YouTube videos recommended by a licenced professional on various subjects (in English only):
Where do I go from here?
The biggest and hardest step to recovery, is getting help. It is not always easy to admit that something might be wrong and that you need help. It is not a sign of weakness, it is not a sign a failure – it is a sign of being human.
We encourage you to speak to a loved one, a friend, or a medical professional, such as your family doctor. This first step will help you get the help you need. There are also many online resources and apps that you can download to get you started on the path to recovery.
What if I want to talk to a medical professional?
Another way to get help is by finding a therapist and going to therapy regularly. Therapy has many benefits and can help you work towards feeling better. For those who are not familiar with therapy, we recommend this video and this clip to help you understand what it is and how it works (in English only).
It can be hard to find a therapist, especially in more isolated and remote areas. Thankfully, there are many online resources to help you find the right person.
Please note, it is important to choose the right psychologist for you and your needs in order to see progress in your road to recovery.
What organizations support mental health and agriculture?
4-H Canada has a comprehensive page on mental health and the agriculture sector, through their “new Healthy Living Initiative. The initiative provides the tools and resources to its 7,600 volunteer leaders to support the well being of 24,000 4-H members.”
DO MORE AG
According to their website, DoMoreAg “are champions for the mental wellbeing of all Canadian producers and are changing the culture of Agriculture to one where all producers are encouraged, supported and empowered to take care of their mental wellbeing”. Their website is filled with tips, tricks and resources specific to mental health in agriculture. You can also read about other farmers’ stories and their struggles with mental illness.
FARM CREDIT CANADA
According to their website, “FCC builds strong relationships and shares knowledge and expertise with thousands of customers across the country […] [They’re there] to support entrepreneurs and believe in the future of ag and food.” On their website, you can find their Wellness section with many resources, stories and tips for taking care of yourself.
CANADIAN RED CROSS
First Aid App
The official Canadian Red Cross First Aid app puts lifesaving advice in your hands. Available for Apple and Android mobile devices, the app helps you maintain your first aid skills and respond to everyday emergencies.
Psychological First Aid Course
This course equips learners in developing a personal understanding of the effects of stress, loss, trauma and grief on others, with emphasis on self-care and personal protection.
Look, Listen, Link and Live Infographic
This infographic provides you with the tools to recognize signs of stress, trauma, and grief in yourself and others, and coping strategies to respond effectively to stressful situations.
CANADIAN FEDERATION OF AGRICULTURE
Brigid Rivoire Award for Champions of Agricultural Mental Health
The Brigid Rivoire Award for Champions of Agricultural Mental Health annually recognizes a specific initiative that has made outstanding contributions in raising awareness, addressing stigma, and supporting mental health for farmers in their local community. This annual award includes a $2,000 donation to a mental health initiative of the recipient’s choice, along with an invitation to attend the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s (CFA) Annual General Meeting in February with all expenses paid.
Interested in applying or know someone who would be the perfect recipient? Click here to learn more.