Mental health resources for farmers



There’s no way around it — Farming is one of the most stressful occupations on the planet.


“Seventy six per cent of farmers are self identifying as having moderate to high stress levels. In general, that is much higher stress levels than the general population,” said Ontario Federation of Agriculture President Peggy Brekveld.


And that’s not the most concerning number, said Brekveld.


“I think the really scary number is from the most recent study done by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton from the University of Guelph, that talks about one in four farmers in the last 12 months, at some point, said they weren’t sure their life was worth living. That’s scary,” she said.


That study helped expedite the creation of Agriculture Wellness Ontario. A suite of mental health programs designed specifically for Ontario farmers, which include mental health workshops, a volunteer suicide prevention program and a 24/7 free counselling phone line.


“People can call while they’re in the field, or in the barn, in the middle of the night if they’d like. It’s available all of the time,” said Kristin Wheatcroft, agriculture wellness Ontario lead for the Canadian Mental Health Association.


The partnership between the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Canadian Mental Health Association is the first of its kind in the province, reaching every farm and field across the countryside and addressing the unique challenges farmers face.


“I think the reality of living rurally really impacts this community. Access to supports is more challenging,” said Wheatcroft.


“It’s all about the climate and the weather. You can have one big storm come up and destroy the crops you worked all year for. Sometimes it’s animal health. We’ve had that on our farm, where we couldn’t figure out what the mystery disease was, impacting our herd,” said Brekveld.


“If you are a farmer or farm family, these services are available for you,” said Wheatcroft.


“There is hope and there are ways to see light at the end of the tunnel and this program, I like to think, is one way to say you can come through this. You’re not alone,” Brekveld added.


Mental health resources for farmers:


To learn more you can visit www.agriculturewellnessontario.ca or by calling the 24/7 farmer help line at 1-866-267-6255.


If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (or 988 beginning July 16, 2022) or Canada’s Talk Suicide 1-833-456-4566. The following resources are also available to support people in crisis:


Hope for Wellness Helpline: (English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut): 1-855-242-3310


Embrace Life Council hotline: 1-800-265-3333


Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366


Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

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